He’s a jack of all trades, a man of many talents, and he first enrolled at Wichita State in 1971. But he didn’t take his education seriously at the time and, by 1981, had moved on in life. Now Eric Harrison is back to finally earn his bachelor’s degree. For Eric, coming back to school at the age of 66 is the best thing he has done.
Eric is majoring in philosophy with minors in English and psychology.
“My dad always wanted me to finish school,” Eric said. “He made do with his education and saw all the potential in a degree.”
Eric comes from a long line of Shocker fans. His dad was a former football player when the school was Wichita University. His siblings all graduated from WSU and now are longtime season ticket holders for baseball and basketball. Wichita State holds a special value to his entire family.
Before coming back to school, he worked as a mason and dabbled in construction work. He also has a side business of creating stained-glass artwork. During his time as a mason, he helped lay the brick on Devlin Hall, something he’s proud of. Now, he runs his family’s ranch in Howard, Kansas. His dad became sick in 2008 and since then, Eric has stepped up to lend a hand.
Growing up, he viewed himself as bullet proof. But, when he was diagnosed with a liver condition and was faced with the possibility of a liver transplant, he realized he still had a list of things to accomplish, with college being the top priority.
“When you start looking at your own mortality, you begin to put things in perspective,” Eric said.
A lot has changed since his enrollment in 1971. Back then, his school work was done with a typewriter and a bottle of whiteout. He chose his classes from a catalog and carried around a physical schedule. Now, it’s all electronic. Eric has enjoyed using his age to engage with his classmates. He feels he can provide experiences and advice in situations they may have not encountered yet. This time around, he’s more comfortable with his instructors, and sharing his views and ideas is easier.
“Being here has been the best thing I’ve done for myself,” Eric said. “Before, my view on the world was bleak. School has helped me not fall into depression.”
After Eric graduates, he has no plans to pursue a different career. He finds happiness on his ranch and is just happy to finally be earning his degree. His education at WSU has opened new doors, led to new friendships and helped him achieve a longtime goal.
“I could spend the rest of my life here. There’s no better place in Wichita.”