A Bachelor’s Degree at 72
At the age of 72, Michael Bradic checked something off his bucket list — getting a bachelor’s degree in history — and became the oldest graduate in the Kean University Class of 2019.
"I’m proud of it because it says that regardless of your age, if there is something you want to do, you can do it. Even as you get older, you should always strive to better yourself,” Bradic said. "I always want to keep my mind active.”
The Toms River resident attended Kean Ocean. He admits that going to school with students who, in some cases, were younger than his grandchildren wasn’t always easy. Case in point — cell phones.
"I would see the students with their latte in one hand and their phone in the other, and I'd be saying to myself, 'Who are they talking to so early in the morning?’” he said. "I'm not saying anything is wrong with that because if they are capable of being on their phones and still getting good grades, that’s all good. I just wanted more social interactions.”
Bradic is used to taking on challenges. He is a Vietnam War veteran who raised five children with his wife, Deborah — their own two sons and a daughter, as well as two nieces he adopted when his sister died unexpectedly at the age of 26.
Now retired, Bradic had careers at Chevron and the United States Postal Service.
He needs hip replacement surgery and walks with the support of two canes. However, Bradic said that never got in the way of his education. He would leave plenty of time to get to school and arrive early to class.
"He is a fine, hardworking student,” said Frank J. Esposito, Ph.D., distinguished professor of history and education who had Bradic in his History of the 1960s class. "His dedication and positive impact on the much younger students in class were quite impressive.”
Bradic was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. He credits Kean’s professors with showing him the way to academic success and singles out one in particular, Lecturer Frank Wetta, Ph.D., for teaching him the proper way to write a paper.
"When I got an A on one of my papers for him, I framed it because getting an A from him means a lot. He doesn't give out high grades. He is a very tough history professor,” Bradic said.
He plans to put his history degree to use in the workplace but wants to find the right opportunity close to home. Bradic hopes his story is an inspiration to people of all ages.
"My thing is, don't have any limitations. Always stay positive. Always be willing to let people help you, and use whatever is available to you to help you achieve your goal,” he said. “You will do it. You will surprise yourself because I surprised myself.”