UVa student, age 67, officially my hero

February, 10, 2012
2/10/12
3:25
PM ET
Pam: I hope you're both happy.
Jerry: I'm not happy.
George: Me neither. I've never been happy.
Jerry: I mean I'm happy sometimes, but not now.
George: In college, maybe. Those were fun times.
Jerry: Yeah, college was fun.


-- from "Seinfeld," Season Three, Episode One

We all dream about it sometimes, don't we? The grass is always greener, but we can't help it. Somewhere in the deep recesses of our brains, anyone who has ever attended college considers how magical it could be to go back. We pine for excuses to enroll anew; we gloss over the intense schoolwork and sleepless study nights and the sheer destruction the student loans would wreak on our long-term finances. (Mine still are. Oh, are they ever.) Why? Because, dude! College! How awesome was college?

I actually think universities could market this as a product: For, say, $500, you get to spend a week in a dorm room, access to any class with an open seat (start with Z401: The Music of the Beatles) and anything else that goes into the college experience. In fact, there's your name: "The College Experience."

OK, so this idea needs work. The point is, for entirely impractical reasons, there's a small part of all of us that wants to go back to school. Don't try to deny it. You know it's there.

Which is what makes stories like that of Virginia student Jerry Reid -- a 67-year-old undergraduate who returned to school to pursue the bachelor's degree he never notched as a younger man -- so heartwarming. According to Lost Lettermen (posting under The Dagger banner's today), Reid failed to graduate high school on time in the 1960s, though he used to socialize on campus and met his future wife there, and after a life of performing various professions he decided it was time, at age 67, to go back. But Reid isn't just that mysterious older guy you occasionally see in undergraduate classes, asking earnest questions and keeping to himself. He is, per Lost Letterman, "a member of the Chi Phi fraternity and a UVA sports fanatic enjoying the school's basketball's revival this season." He's on track to graduate in 2013, and yes, you can find him in the student section at every UVa home game:
Reid said he is used to skepticism from his fellow students about his ability to hang with their youthful legs but is quick to dismiss it.

"When I'm jumping up and down and doing the jump pound with them, (the students) tell me, 'You can't sit down, you've got to be on your feet the whole time,'" Reid said. "I say, 'You just watch, I'm with you.'"

[...] Now in the same fraternity his friend joined almost half a century years ago, Reid is currently featured on the Chi Phi website with a headline that reads "World's Oldest Pledge?" In it, Reid quotes Thomas Jefferson by saying, "Friends we have if we have merited them. Those of our earliest years stand nearest in our affections. Our college friends are the dearest."

Despite the similarities to the aforementioned "Old School" character, Reid says he's not often compared to Blue Palasky for one simple reason.

"At age 67 I've retained my moves and I'm able to dance the style of music they've got going," Reid quipped.

It's official: Jerry Reid is my new favorite human being. The man is a living legend. May he, like Blue Palasky before him, be an inspiration to us all.

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