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A WC Education and a Little Maturity

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May 14, 2014

When Glenn Wright ’68 graduated from high school, his goal was to graduate from college.  He didn’t want to just go to college.  He wanted to graduate.  The problem— he wasn’t sure he could.

Glenn Wright ’68 left his hometown of Clayton, DE in the fall of 1964 to begin his freshman year at Washington College.  He found, however, that the experience was a huge adjustment.  He wasn’t a strong student or an athlete or a leader.  He wasn’t prepared academically. To put it bluntly, he says “The fact that I looked like I was about 14 didn’t help either”. 

As he struggled in his academic pursuits, he found the Psychology Department– where he continued his academic travails.  Glenn began to enjoy the scientific and experimental focus of the department.  He learned to read scientific papers critically, develop and execute psychology experiments and think analytically. 

In the end, Glenn did graduate.  He learned that to get good grades at Washington College you had to earn them, just as he would find out there were no “easy A’s” in life.   He also learned to think critically, write clearly, approach problems analytically, and he developed an intellectual curiosity that would drive him throughout his life.  He’d achieved his goal of graduating, and he’ll tell you, “I’ve done that all my life – set short term, measurable goals and never put a ceiling on my aspirations.”

In the years that followed graduation, Glenn was on a mission to turn his hard-earned degree into a job.  He felt like he needed to repay his parents for their generosity.  He surprised himself by interviewing well, and was intrigued by the “romance” of the airline industry of the 60s.   He got an entry-level job with United Airlines as a Customer Service Representative, but by the age of 25, he felt like he was failing again.  Feeling underemployed and unable to climb the corporate ladder without more business experience, he began taking classes.  He soon entered graduate school at George Mason University in pursuit of an MBA, while continuing to work for United Airlines.  His grades at George Mason were stellar.  He says, “It’s amazing what a Washington College education and a little maturity will do”.

At George Mason, Glenn was charged with developing a thesis examining the impact of age and job seniority on job satisfaction.  He ran it like a Washington College Psych experiment and developed a valid measurement of job satisfaction in the form of a questionnaire.  A couple of years later, Glenn was the Supervisor in Accounting Operations at UA.  The Vice President of Accounting charged the department managers with measuring employee morale.  Glenn’s manager asked for ideas, so Glenn dug out his old job satisfaction questionnaire. He ended up conducting the survey for each section of the department, analyzing the data and presenting it to his boss’ bosses, and as they say, “A star was born.”

Over time, Glenn went on to become United’s Vice President of Sales, Airport Operations & Reservations – Midwest.  He never forgot about the 18-year-old-going-on-14 who struggled to graduate from Washington College.  He was always grateful for the friends he made who helped him through. Upon retiring, he was proud to say he’d mentored several vice presidents-to-be.  And he found he was proudest of the people he worked with and of the community he was a part of. “I gave it 100% all the time, I was intellectually honest, I cared about people and I always tried to do the right thing.”

Glenn is still trying to do the right thing.  He recently made a provision in his will to provide scholarships to Washington College students from his hometown of Clayton, DE.  Today, he lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his wife Linda after a long and successful career.  In looking back, he feels he had every advantage in life and is grateful that he has been so fortunate.  With his gift, Glenn hopes he can pass on that same feeling. 

Last modified on Aug. 20th, 2014 at 9:26am by Meghan Livie.