Richard D. Yessian
is 72 years old, but his
wife says most of his
friends are about 50 years younger. Yessian, a Cranston resident, will graduate summa cum laude from the Community College of Rhode Island Friday with an associate's degree in fine arts.He
was never made to feel uncomfortable about his
age and felt like he
fit right in.
"I've never felt anything about people younger or older," Yessian
said."I just like nice people."
The former Marine, who was born in a house on Cranston Street, has always enjoyed learning and is an avid viewer of the Discovery and History Channels. Yessian retired after 42 years with the United States Postal Service and started taking classes.
After taking a few classes at CCRI, Yessian's wife, Sue, suggested he
pursue a degree.Yessian attended the University of Rhode Island after serving in the Marines for three years following high school, but it was not the right time to pursue his education, he said.
is a very knowledgeable person, very well read," Sue said. Yessian
has plenty of company returning to school at CCRI.
Horta ran a program for older people to learn about computers and Yessian
took the class to be able to write his papers and do Internet research.
"It was something I thought I could get away without but looking back I couldn't," Yessian
said."I had to learn before I started learning."
Family support was very important to Yessian
and, along with his
three stepdaughters and six grandchildren all support his
return to education.Family events turned into conversations between Yessian
and his grandchildren about homework, papers and tests, Horta said.
enjoyed all of his
art classes along with psychology, sociology and oral communications to name a few.He
especially enjoyed an acting class that involved his
performing Jack Nicholson's famous "You can't handle the truth" monologue from A Few Good Men.
"I loved all my professors and classmates," he
took four classes a semester to reach his
goal of a degree.He
hopes to take an anthropology class in the future and continue taking classes that interest him.
"It feels so good to get a good grade on a paper or test," he
...Yessian pursued his degree in fine arts because he said art and drawing is something everyone can relate to from children drawing pictures to people doodling while they are bored. Yessian
will celebrate his
graduation with his
family this weekend and then plans on doing some painting and drawing along with some yard work. Yessian
would encourage anyone who wants to go back to school and get their education to do so.
"We only come around this way once and if you want to do it you should do it," he
"[Yessian] represents a certain market where after they retire they want to keep their brain fresh," she