Grand Haven native earns 12th graduate degree

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:58 PM

Bolger, a Grand Haven native, recently received his 12th graduate degree from Ashland University in creative writing. 


Although Bolger, 38, said he’s spent time organizing his life to allow him to continue learning, he didn’t set out to break records or to receive recognition. Instead, it was to fulfill his curiosity.


At a young age, Bolger was diagnosed with a severe form of dyslexia. Bolger recalled his teachers saying he might not complete high school nor attend college because of his dyslexia.


Bolger, who now lives in Massachusetts, said he attributes his interest in learning to being homeschooled by his mother, Loretta J. Bolger, who gave him hands-on learning experiences.


At 12, Benjamin Bolger enrolled in courses at Muskegon Community College, where he earned an associate degree. From there, he transferred to the University of Michigan to receive a bachelor’s degree.


Loretta Bolger moved to Ann Arbor with her son, where she read his textbooks aloud and wrote his papers as he dictated them to her.


Benjamin Bolger said he read at a grade-school level, but took college courses.


“My dyslexia was like being blind when it came to reading and doing things with language,” he said. 


Eventually, he discovered a reading method that helped him gradually improve his reading and spelling.


After graduating from the University of Oxford in England, Benjamin Bolger said it raised more questions than answers, so he pursued a degree at the University of Cambridge.


From politics to real estate development, Benjamin Bolger studied an array of topics as he received master’s degrees from the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Stanford University, Columbia University, Teachers College - Columbia University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Brandeis University and Skidmore College. He received a doctorate degree from Harvard University.


Benjamin Bolger offered advice for others about overcoming and working through challenges.


“Many of the most difficult challenges in life require dedication, focus, and above all else — perseverance,” he said. “Learning how to persevere even in the face of challenges that seem, at times, insurmountable is essential in order to find success.”


To read more of this story, see Saturday's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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