Brookfield resident Gordie Gohr is finding a lot to celebrate lately.
He turned 50 earlier this month and was honored as a recent member of the Golden Key International Honour Society for his academic success as a first-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
His real celebration, though, comes from the satisfaction that he took the plunge to follow in the footsteps of his three children, all Brookfield Central grads, to pursue a bachelor's degree.
A successful commercial artist since graduating with an associate degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1982, Gohr said not getting a bachelor's began to weigh on him.
Part of it was the fact that his entire family had received or was about to complete their bachelor's studies. He also wanted to sharpen his own professional skills.
"My wife, Kimberly, received her bachelor's in fine arts from UWM," he said, noting son Josh is a UW-La Crosse alum, his daughter Andrea graduated from UW-Stevens Point and his daughter Lindsey is a senior at UW-Eau Claire.
"I saw my kids graduating and I think I should have done that," Gohr said.
Though he said he has been lucky to work at local advertising agencies and now has numerous regular clients working in his own home-based business, Gohr took the plunge.
In a personal perspective he wrote as a kind of college résumé, Gohr said: "I am truly venturing out of my comfort zone. … I want my BFA! I want to reinvent myself. I want to be energized by all that a learning environment has to offer. I would love to teach someday, Did I mention I want a BFA!"
Gohr is balancing his academic pursuits with what he has described as an understanding clientele.
"My clients have been very supportive," he said. "They said they are impressed that I am going back for my master's until I tell them 'no,' it's for my bachelor's. They just say that's great."
Going back to school was not easy for Gohr, who learned commercial art before the emergence of technology.
"Here I am asking how to turn on a Mac and raising my hand when the instructor asked who did not have a Facebook account," he said. "I could see some of the younger students rolling their eyes."
But Gohr said he gained a new respect from his classmates when it came time to understand the basic theories and application of art and design.
"They began to look at me differently when they saw that I knew those things," he laughed.
Gohr has no difficulty gaining respect at home.
Andrea, who holds a bachelor's degree in web design and business and works at Quad Graphics, said the family is very proud.
"I was still in college when my dad said he was going to enroll at UWM," Andrea said. "I was excited, we all were. His face lit up when he told us. It was awesome."
Andrea said she shares a lot more than love of design with her dad.
"We have similar mindsets the way we see challenges and set goals," Andrea said. "I know he wants to be a teacher and I think he would make a great one. … He's been teaching me all my life."
"Going back to school after all these years is like attending boot camp for the brain."
-- Gordie Gohr
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