Alumni Spotlight: Don Carlson


Don Carlson, CLAS '65, has a story that will resonate with many Wayne State students and alumni. He began his graduate studies after completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan and serving in the United States Navy. For five years, he pursued a master's degree in political science from while continuing to work full time. At the same time, Carlson says, he "found time for a courtship, marriage, the birth of two daughters, and the purchase of a home."

Now retired after 38 years working in the insurance industry, Carlson remains active in his community of St. Louis, Mo. He values his time at Wayne State and considers finishing his thesis as one of his greatest achievements. Carlson says "I wanted to prove to myself that I could get an advanced degree."

Here Carlson reflects on his experiences at Wayne State.

What unique opportunities did Wayne State present to you that weren't available elsewhere?

WSU admitted me for the master's program after I convinced the chair of the political science department that I was a good candidate. I was a Navy veteran, but with a less than stellar academic record at U-M.


What is your most vivid memory from your time at Wayne State?

The school was busy from 8 am until 10 pm. The students on campus in the evening, most with employment duties, were very serious about their studies. There is a great utilization of the facilities and a great class registration system at Wayne State.


What advice would you give to those considering pursuing an advanced degree while continuing to work?

Be prepared for long days. Sometimes, I would nap in my car before starting an evening class.


Is there any additional advice that you would give to current Wayne State students?

Find employment you like and stay with it. However, be prepared to move if the opportunity arises. Build up, through savings, a nest egg fund and let it grow.

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