Degrees direct retiree to new career

Monday, October 11, 2004

Ed Solberg

After 35 years of calculating annuities for other retirees, Ed Solberg accepted his own retirement package at age 54. Knowing he “had to do something,” he enrolled first in an astronomy class at North Hennepin Community/Technical College, that transferred to St. Cloud State University, and, “Before I knew it I had my master’s.”

Now, after receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SCSU, Solberg is doing something he never dreamed he’d be doing – teaching.

“It would have been a lot better financially for me to have gone to college first,” said Solberg, who has relished the experience of learning for the sake of learning. “I don’t believe that education is just to enhance your job. It’s to learn and become a better person. There’s a big difference between training and education.”

Solberg went to high school in Newark, N.J., and did what a lot of other young people from that city did after high school. He got a job with Prudential. The insurance giant’s home office was in Newark, and what the company and its people did was big news there.

Solberg and his cocker spaniel Nicholas II (after the ill-fated Russian czar) live on a shady, “Leave It to Beaver”-era block in Monticello. There he substitute teaches at the middle school and high school in a variety of subjects. “It could be band one day, biology the next.”

Solberg likes being around young people. “Sometimes it can be a challenge, but it keeps you young,” he said. “Besides, it’s a good way to get to know the people in the community.” Solberg had gone to high school in Newark, N.J., and did what a lot of other young people from that city did after graduation. He got a job with Prudential, the insurance giant whose home office was in Newark. His last transfer was to Plymouth.

His bachelor of elective studies degree is in history, political science, and American studies. His master’s degree is in history.

Railroad buff and Professor Don Hofsommer, who served as Solberg’s adviser and mentor, remembers Solberg as a quiet but passionate guy. “He was an extraordinarily diligent grad student who brought life experience that was useful to both instructors and students.”

It took Solberg only a short time to get over the fact that he was more mature than the others in his classes. “Forget about the students – I was older than the professors!” He adopted the attitude that no matter how old he was and how young the others in class were, he was still just one of the students. A good one, at that: he graduated summa cum laude. Now Solberg has made a commitment to support other students in the College of Social Sciences through a gift in his will.

“He was a joy to have in class and a wonderful human being,” Hofsommer said. “I miss him a lot. I wish we had a boxcar full of students like him.”

- Marsha Shoemaker

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