Jeffrey Harrington M ’11 ’14
Jeffrey Harrington M ’11 ’14 has been around the world with the U.S. Marine Corps, but it’s here in Chestertown where he is indulging one of his true passions—lifelong learning. Already a Washington College alum after earning his master’s degree in history in 2011, Harrington is nearly finished his second master’s, this one in psychology. And that doesn’t include the EdD in education he already obtained while he was on active duty.
“I’m a big believer in education, and I didn’t want to leave those benefits just sitting out there and not being used,” says Harrington. “This is really the first college experience I’ve had in 30 years, because I was always at a duty station and I’d try to go to night classes and put it together.”
Harrington spent 25 years with the Marines before retiring and settling in Chestertown in 2006. With his background in sociology and public administration, he served as everything from a paralegal to an embassy guard over the years. After retiring from the Corps, he took a job on Kent Island working for a defense contractor, providing computer-based training and education for the Corps’ Center for Advanced Operational Cultural Learning.
After a bit he decided to use his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefit to enter the College’s graduate program in history, “for the sake of learning.”
“A lot of people say it’s a degree you can’t do anything with, and I was one of the ones who said that,” he says. “But now I would disagree. It makes you a more well rounded person and it forces you to think outside the situation. It just gives you pause to look for more information.”
A member of Omicron Kappa Delta, the National Leadership Honor Society, Harrington says he feels that the WC’s quiet nature and beautiful campus invites personal growth and reflection, helpful particularly to veterans. Still, he says, they have to immerse themselves to get the most out of the education.
“They’re older and more mature and they sort of get it when I say, you get out of the place what you put into it. This place is not here to give you anything unless you’re willing to take what it is they want to give you. You can come here with a chip on your shoulder that you have all this life experience, which is true, but there’s so much more to learn.”
“The best investment you can make is in yourself,” Harrington says. “Even when I was a 29-year-old working on my undergrad with three kids, the most important thing was finishing, because it opened doors. You need a key to open the door, and this is where you get the key.”