Today@Sam Article

75-Year-Old Student Set To Be Oldest CJ Graduate In SHSU History

July 30, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Crandall

Story by Victor Henson II

Portrait of Thomas WoodDriven by his love of learning, Thomas Wood is set to complete the criminal justice master’s program at 75-years-old.

Wood, who started in the psychology field working with children, is prepared to graduate July 31, cementing him as one of the oldest graduates in the Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice’s history. His interest in criminal justice started when he was young and grew as he had the opportunity to teach in the prison system.

After teaching at seven different units within six years, Wood was dedicated to learning more about criminal justice and corrections. His journey began when he sat in on one of Erin Orrick’s undergraduate corrections courses offered by SHSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. After that class, he was hooked, and he decided to pursue the master’s program.

One of his favorite memories while going through the program was working in the prison system two nights a week and seeing firsthand the theories that he was learning in class. He wanted to make connections between what he was learning in class while teaching inmates. He described the experience as very interesting and enjoyed seeing the other side of the prison system.

Wood values education, and he seeks to encourage others to continue their education with passion and a drive to succeed.

“I always encourage people to get as much education as they can,” Wood said. “I cannot say enough about how important an education is.”

A retired SHSU professor with 45 years of higher education experience, Wood will be receiving his fourth master’s degree this Saturday and is excited about his next journey. After graduation, Wood wants to move to Florida and continue working in the criminal justice field as a professor or volunteer for a spiritual-based advocacy group.

Turning 76 this September, Wood is an inspiration to the next generation of practitioners and is actively motivated to be a positive light in the criminal justice field.

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