The great joys of returning to Yale as a student … 50 years later

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Ernie '64 and Susan PickErnie ’64 and Susan Pick

More than 50 years after he graduated, Ernie Pick ’64 BFA returned to Yale as a student, this time auditing classes alongside his wife, Susan. He recounts his experience here.

My wife Susan and myself are entering the Golden Years of our lives, and we have been looking back at things that have been memorable and had an impact on our lives. One of the most memorable things I keep referring back to was my experience as a student at Yale, and in particular, how blessed and fortunate I was to experience Yale. We have talked about how interesting it would be to reconnect with Yale and take courses alongside current students.

With that kernel of an idea, we contacted the Yale Alumni Association and I discovered that myself, along with my wife, could indeed come back to Yale and take courses.

We both got excited about this opportunity and enrolled through the alumni office to take courses in the fall of 2018. Since commuting from our home in California was not an option, we rented an apartment near campus, which also required renting furniture. We arrived in late summer with prior approval of the professors teaching our courses of interest. We “shopped” quite a few courses that looked challenging over a two-week period. We also signed up for membership at Mory’s.

Susan Pick in classEvery decision paid off. Mory’s had a series of interesting events, including docent-led tours of the art museums and even a walk up to the top of Harkness Tower with a carillon demonstration. It seemed that every evening there were interesting lectures, concerts, or singing groups giving a performance on campus. The weekends were devoted to taking the train into Manhattan to visit museums and galleries or simply going to a Broadway show. It was wonderful not having to concern ourselves with grades or other pressures, but simply just to enjoy the outstanding lectures on compelling topics.

One of the courses we really valued was Dr. John Bargh’s course on the “Modern Unconscious Mind.” I also enjoyed the History of Russian Art and an art course. Susan’s favorite course was Governor Bill Richardson’s course at the Jackson Institute entitled, “Diplomatic Crisis,” where they discussed many problem areas of the world. Susan’s “Introduction to Film Studies” allowed her to see several foreign films from all over the world that she would have not been able to see otherwise.

Ernie Pick with his classmatesOverall, the opportunity to reconnect with Yale and to fill our desire to learn and engage in lively discussions with current students exceeded our expectations. It was fulfilling to get out of our day-to-day lifestyle and concentrate on more intellectual pursuits far outside of our normal sphere. We look forward to doing this again!


For more information on returning to Yale as a student, either by auditing classes or through the Yale for Life program, visit the Learn on Campus section on the website.