CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas— When school starts Sept. 4 at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the University’s most “experienced” student will be back on campus working on his 10th master’s degree.
James Edmonson Jr., called J.M. by his friends, was born in 1937 in Corpus Christi. During that year, Franklin Roosevelt was president, the Hindenburg burst into flames, and Amelia Earhart disappeared while attempting to fly around the world; events most students have only read about in history books.
“I am trying to keep my brain from going bad,” said Edmonson. “Education keeps my brain alive and functioning.”
Edmonson received his first degree in 1964 and has been going to school ever since. He started at A&M-Corpus Christi in January of 1993 and says he has only missed one semester in the past 21 years. In all, he has 13 degrees including seven master’s degrees in education from the Island University. In May 2001 Edmonson was awarded three master’s degrees all in one graduation ceremony. He is currently working on a master’s degree in Reading and should graduate in May 2014.
“With that degree, I will have all of the master’s degrees the College of Education has to offer except Kinesiology,” said Edmonson. “I may work on one in history next.”
He also has a master’s in Economics and has worked for the past 15 years as the Executive Director of the Mathis Housing Authority. Edmonson served as a judge for San Patricio county and spent several years in the 60’s and 70’s teaching, when he wasn’t farming.
“I was a farmer for 20 years. Every year there was a drought, I had to go back to teaching to put bread on the table,” said Edmonson.
Edmonson says education runs in his family. He says he has 41 people in his extended family, 20 of those relatives have master’s degrees. His daughter is a senior at Texas State University, and his son has a Nuclear Engineering degree from Texas A&M University.
“If society is going to progress it has to learn from its past and project those things on to the future and education is how you do it.”
Edmonson says he isn’t sure yet what he is going to do with all of his education but he has no plans to quit.
“I plan to stay in school until I die,” said Edmonson.