Alumni Spotlight

April 24, 2023 0 comments
Regent University Communications Building, Virginia Beach.

Over the past 45 years, Regent has equipped more than 33,000 alumni to succeed in their careers and make a positive difference in the world. 

Yet, in all those years, Charles Fitz-Gerald—on May 6, 2023—will hold a new record and distinction among his fellow alums when the New York native receives his M.A. in Theatre: the university’s oldest graduate!

“I was surprised to learn that I am the oldest Regent University graduate,” shared Charles. “At age 85, I suppose I should not be amazed because I never regard myself as old.”

After Charles earned his first theatre degree at Syracuse University in 1959, he didn’t head for the bright lights of Broadway. Instead, he forged a successful business career in publishing college textbooks, owning bookstores, and working in the trade association field.

Regent University graduate Charles E. Fitz-Gerald.
Charles E. Fitz-Gerald (SCA ’23)

“I was aided in my career in no small way by the presentation and communication skills I learned as a theatre major,” explained Charles. “My widowed mother struggled on a schoolteacher’s salary to put me through Syracuse, and I did not feel I could submit her to the prospect of a struggling actor and playwright waiting tables in New York City.”

It wasn’t until years later that Charles became interested in theatre again. After his son, a high school sophomore at the time, asked for a ride to an audition—they both ended up cast mates in West Side Story

“This inaugurated a 25-year period for me in which I appeared in more than 30 plays in the Capital District of New York where we lived,” said Charles. “In 2020, I began to feel the need to upgrade my credentials and decided to apply to graduate school. It was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with no options to attend school in person.”

So, at 82 years old, Charles began searching for an online degree program that would fit his need for distance learning. “Regent was the ideal solution.”

“Regent has mastered the mechanics of delivering academic material and fostering intellectual inquiry in online learning,” said Charles. “In all my classes, I felt a connection and appreciation from my instructors. I loved the process of academic exploration.” 

But, after graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA, Fitz-Gerald may not be done yet. “I am considering a second master’s degree,” he added. “As C.S. Lewis said, ‘You are never too old to set a new goal and to dream a new dream.’”

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