Communities Michael McIvor
Fulfilling the promise of Marlboro after two decades
On learning about Marlboro
My best friend since I was a teenager, Andrew Gates, graduated from Marlboro in ’94. At the time I was working construction in New Jersey. So I spent a lot of time at Marlboro, on long weekends and when I had a couple weeks of down time. I thought all schools were gigantic institutions with class sizes of 300 or 400 people. I didn’t know that there were little places like Marlboro. Andrew was pretty excited about it when he was here. I wanted to go to Marlboro ever since then, almost 20 years ago.
On making the jump from career to college
I always wanted to go to college, and partly it was circumstances that conspired against me. I’m originally from Scotland, and my folks had sent me back to Scotland for boarding school when I was 16. I was in the U.S. Navy for seven years, and doing commercial construction back in Texas. I came home from work one day, doing construction in Texas, and I sort of had an epiphany. For me it was never, “I want to go to college.” It was always, “I want to go to Marlboro.” My big concern was my kids, who were at a good school and were doing well. But I looked at the big picture and I thought, taking everything into consideration, it’s important to me that my kids value education. And it’s tough for me to make that argument if I’m not willing to make the effort.
I fantasize that I’d like to be a writer some day, or a teacher. I think I’d like to teach at a collegiate level, but I’m 42 years old and that ship may have sailed for me. I have some sort of ideas about Plan, but I think those ideas can change a whole lot over the course of a semester. I took a writing seminar with John Sheehy. John gave me the sort of feedback that I could apply to getting better at what I was doing. He’s the perfect example of why someone like me can be successful at Marlboro. I learn best by developing relationships with people, and then communicating with them. I have to participate in my education or it becomes really uninteresting for me.
On being a student with a family
I obviously have other responsibilities besides going to school, but it’s not really in a bad way, or a challenging way. I also have the support of my family. I get to come home to my family every day and I get to share this with my kids and my wife, and it’s great. I love it that my kids see me doing homework. It’s important to me that they get to see me enjoying this.
On doing the right thing
Marlboro’s really a special place. People that end up at Marlboro are doing what they want to be doing. That’s really not the reality for the vast majority of people, who end up doing something and just do it. It’s easy to justify that on a daily basis, because you’ve got to wake up every morning and go do it. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to teach my kids that you’re just supposed to accept something because that’s the way it is and your other options are challenging. I want them to be willing to take chances in order to do what they think is right. Even though it’s difficult and frightening.