By France Griggs Sloat
It took more than 16 years for Gary Brown, a corporate pilot, to figure out what he wanted to do for a living. Finally, at age 40, he made a decision: he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life staring through the windshield of an airplane.
Never mind the fact that he’s flying a Cessna corporate jet that luxuriously seats seven and cost its owner about $5 million. Or that he lives a jet-setter lifestyle, zooming from one big city to the next—Cincinnati to New York to Los Angeles to Dallas. That would be a dream job for most pilots who caught the flying bug in their youth. But for Brown, the dream became routine, and he began to feel something was missing. One day he decided to do something about it.
“Around 1994, I really started to question,” he says. “I said, ‘I just don’t want to do this the rest of my life.’ It was a soul-searching thing. In 1995, I got into the masters program at Xavier. It was about helping people. I had made up my mind I wanted to start working toward another career.”
Brown, who completed his master’s degree in education counseling in 2000 as a commuter student, is in good company. Here, and on campuses nationwide, the number of graduate students is increasing, and many of the newcomers are middle-aged people looking for a change. They are lawyers becoming teachers, corporate professionals becoming coaches, line workers becoming personnel trainers. They are people willing to give up, in some cases, high-powered positions with high-priced salaries in exchange for lower pay and better—though sometimes odd—hours. The reason, they say, is the reward.
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