Finding Fulfillment: A Radio Legend's Journey Back to College

Bob Guerra
Adult Degree

Finding Fulfillment: A Radio Legend's Journey Back to College

July 9, 2024 | by Cara Davis

Bob Guerra's story of a lifetime goal fulfilled through Belmont's Adult Degree program

Bob at graduationAfter a 50-year career in radio broadcasting that took him from small-town Nebraska to the bright lights of Los Angeles, Bob Guerra (Liberal Studies, ‘20) found himself facing a new challenge: completing his college degree. At an age when many are settling into retirement, Guerra enrolled in Belmont's Adult Degree program, embarking on a four-year journey that would bring him personal fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment he had long desired.

A Passion Deferred

Guerra's path to Belmont was anything but typical. In the 1960s, he left college after a year and a half to pursue his dream of becoming a radio announcer. "I had decided that I wanted to be a radio announcer. I really had a passion for it," Guerra said. This decision led to a successful career that saw him rise through the ranks of the radio industry.

"I reached some pretty good heights, including the Operations Manager for the country stations in Los Angeles," Guerra recalled. His career path included roles as a disc jockey, Music Director, Program Director & Operations Manager While in LA, he oversaw multimillion-dollar budgets and teams of over 40 people. Guerra's expertise eventually led him to consulting and Nashville where helped create radio specials and syndicated radio shows, including a 24-year run with "New Music Nashville" in partnership with Walmart.

Despite his professional success, Guerra always felt there was unfinished business when it came to his education. "I told my wife that I wanted to go back and complete my degree and get this thing done, not because I needed it, but I wanted it," he said.

Choosing Belmont's Adult Degree Program

When Guerra decided to return to school, he knew he wanted a program that would offer the full college experience. "I didn't want to do this online. I want to experience going to class, and I want that experience of learning with other students," he explained.

After researching several options in Nashville, Guerra found Belmont's Adult Degree program to be the perfect fit. The program's flexibility allowed him to take classes at a pace that suited his needs, typically averaging about nine credit hours per semester.

One of the key advantages of Belmont's program was its willingness to accept transfer credits from Guerra's previous college experience. This gave him a head start, although he noted with a laugh, "The good news is they accepted it. The bad news is that my grade point was horrible.

Overcoming Challenges and Finding Support

Returning to the classroom after decades away presented its share of challenges. Guerra found himself tackling subjects he had never studied before, including foreign language requirements that weren't part of his earlier college experience.

He focused on Spanish, taking three full semesters to meet the requirement. Math and science courses also posed challenges, but Guerra found unwavering support from Belmont's faculty.

"When I found things that were challenging and I was having a tough time, the professors here were absolutely wonderful, reaching out after class to help tutor me or help me to understand," he said.

A New Perspective on Learning

As an adult learner, Guerra approached his studies with a different mindset than he had in his youth. "I wasn't going to waste my time, so I did my homework, and I made sure I was prepared to go into a class, and I asked questions. I did everything a good student should," he said.

This dedication paid off. Guerra made the Dean's List multiple times and saw his GPA rise dramatically. "I was able to pull my 1.4 to a 2.8 when I graduated," he said proudly. "My Belmont only GPA was somewhere under the center of 3.6."

Guerra's life experience also brought a unique perspective to the classroom. In history courses, he found himself learning about events he had lived through. "I lived through the 60s. I saw it, you know, and I saw how people really reacted instead of what's now in textbooks," he explained.

Bridging Generations in the Classroom

Initially, Guerra's presence as an older student raised some eyebrows among his classmates. "Once they adapted to this old guy in class with them wondering what's he doing here? I just became one of the guys," he said. As time went on, Guerra found himself becoming a mentor to younger students, many of whom were unsure about their career paths.

"The vast majority of the kids that I went to school with here, even as we got into our senior year,  had no idea what they were going to do with their lives after graduation" Guerra observed. He often shared his own experience of finding his passion early in life, encouraging students to reflect on their own interests and goals.

A Fulfilling Achievement

In the spring of 2020, after four years of hard work, Guerra achieved his long-held goal of earning his college degree. (He had to wait an entire year to walk, however. The pandemic postponed the in-person graduation ceremony until May 2021, pictured above). The accomplishment brought him a deep sense of personal satisfaction. "It remains really amazing. Self-satisfying. It truly is a bucket list item for me," he said.

While Guerra knew he wouldn't use the degree professionally, the experience of earning it was invaluable. "I knew going into this, it was going to cost money, and I knew that there wasn't anything I was going to do with it. But I guarantee you, there's other people like me out there," he said, highlighting the personal growth and fulfillment that can come from pursuing education at any age.

The Belmont Experience

Throughout his time at Belmont, Guerra was impressed by the University's commitment to its students and the quality of education provided. "I would recommend anyone who, for whatever reason, wants to complete their college education to come here," he said.

Guerra also appreciated Belmont's efforts to cater to a diverse student body, including veterans using the GI Bill. "I thought that Belmont did a really good job catering to them and helping them make their own decisions," he said.

Looking to the Future

Since graduating, Guerra has remained connected to Belmont, participating in alumni events like the recent inaugural Reunion Weekend and looking for ways to give back to the University community. "I'd like to get more involved with the Alumni Program here in any way I can," he said.

Learn More

For more information, visit the Liberal Studies Major and Adult Degree Program.