Retired veteran returns to college at 59 to become an attorney

MACON, Ga. — Wearing a Mercer Law hat and using a walking cane, 59-year-old Marvin Conrad is not your typical first year college student at Mercer University.

Conrad, who now lives in Bonaire, Georgia grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He remembers his childhood as fun, with the loving care of his mother and father. Conrad said that the structure his parents enforced on him had the greatest influence getting him to where he is today.

“Monday through Friday was focused on school work, Sunday was always church all day. Saturday was my only break,” Conrad said.

Since the sixth grade, Conrad aspired to be a registered nurse. At that time, this was unheard of for a man as less than 5 percent of registered nurses were men. When he got to high school, it got even harder to pursue his dream while being accepted by society.

“High school was definitely the most difficult time for me, I was always told I couldn’t be a registered nurse. When all the nursing schools visited my school I was always the only guy in the interest meetings,” he said.

After graduating from the Community College of Baltimore, Conrad worked at a hospital before serving in the medical field in the Air Force.

Once retired from the Air Force, Conrad realized more and more the injustice that is done to veterans and their families. He wanted to do something to help. Conrad is back in school to become an attorney as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, a mission that is very close to his heart.

Through his years in the Air Force, Conrad acquired a love of traveling and music.

“I’m a sound guy and I love listening to music. When I travel, I love going to live concerts. There is such a network and community of people you meet when you are there,” he said. “There is nothing like it. I went to Korea and saw Whitney Houston and Kirk Franklin. Seattle to see Stevie Wonder, the Maui Jazz Festival and the Catalina Islands on the West Coast.”

This summer, Conrad is going with Mercer’s Study Abroad program to Greece and plans on taking philosophy and art classes.

“I can’t turn down that opportunity. … I’ve had many choices and I utilized those choices. That’s how I got to where I am now,” Conrad said.

Conrad believes that his faith in God and the influence of his great-great-grandmother got him to where he is today.

“My faith in God got me to where I am now… Also, I spent a good 80 percent of my childhood with my great great grandmother, everyday. Just listening to her tell me I can do anything I want to do. Just do it. She definitely had the greatest influence,” he said.

The happiest moment of Conrad’s life will be next month, when he gets to see all of his daughters complete their goals by graduating from Stanford University and The University of California, Berkeley.

“Making a difference in someone’s life, caring for someone that couldn’t care for themselves, that’s the best part about my life,” he said.