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Ram Kaushik
Ram Kaushik,
Offer Manager, Power Management (Energy Solutions) at Schneider Electric

“As I slowly reach the end of my journey with the MLAS program, I look forward to graduating with distinctly mixed feelings. On the plus side, it will be nice to graduate with my kids. But I will certainly miss the thrill of the journey. If you are in Nashville and want to expand your horizons a bit, consider the MLAS program seriously.”  Go to to read the rest of the story.

Joe Howell
Joe Howell,
Senior Photographer Vanderbilt University

“My MLAS experience was wholly fulfilling. Not only did I receive an advanced degree from a top 20 university, but also I broadened my mind and enriched my life through this educational endeavor. I found the faculty to be exceptional and my fellow students distinguished. The course work was challenging and diverse. The MLAS degree was an enlightening journey that bettered me intellectually and professionally.”

Sheila A. Herring
Sheila A. Herring,
Homemaker and Community Volunteer

“The MLAS program is terrific! After raising my children and taking care of other family members, going back to the classroom has been a change of pace and a stimulating experience. Some of Vanderbilt’s best professors have challenged me to open my mind and think more deeply, and to organize my thoughts and write more effectively. I am so glad I took advantage of this opportunity. I would not have missed it for the world. Well done, MLAS, and thank you.”

Edward Friedman
Edward Friedman
Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Spanish, Professor of Comparative Literature and Director, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities
Vanderbilt University

“At Vanderbilt, one has the opportunity to teach a wide range of students: undergraduates and graduate students, and also young scholars in the Programs for Talented Youth and Nashville professionals in the MLAS program. It has been a superb experience for me to meet and to work with the broad spectrum of MLAS students, who represent many career paths and different (but always interesting) life experiences. The common denominators have been a keen interest in learning, dedication, and good will. I admire the program on all levels, from its administrators to its outstanding participants. It is a program that deserves superlative ratings.”

Virgil L. Bentley
Virgil L. Bentley, Registered Respiratory Therapist
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

“The Vanderbilt MLAS program is a rewarding and mind opening experience. Each semester brings with it great anticipation of new seminar style topics that are rigorous and lively at the same time, but promote deep discussions amongst a wealth of fascinating classmates from all different walks of life and careers.

The programs evening classes allows me to pursue graduate studies at a prestigious university while enabling me to continue with my busy personal and professional life. I truly recommend this program to anyone wanting to learn and broaden their intellectual experience.”

Melanie Lowe
Melanie Lowe, Associate Professor of Musicology
Blair School of Music
Vanderbilt University

“I look forward to every MLAS class meeting. The students have chosen to be there, so the attitude in the classroom is very positive. And the students bring so much enthusiasm to our topics that I don’t have to be concerned with moving discussion along. I get to sit back a bit, think hard about the issues we touch on, and learn from everyone’s experience, which is wonderful for me. I also like that the students don’t hesitate to go out into the wider world and ask people they know or meet about the questions we raise in class, and they bring back their responses. Overall, MLAS students combine strategies for learning in daily, adult life with more traditional academic learning strategies, and the result is that we cover a lot of interesting ground.”

Michael P. Hodges
Michael P. Hodges, Professor of Philosophy
Director of Undergraduate Studies

“What is unique about teaching in the, MLAS program is the students who want to be there, are dedicated and mature. They are committed to the program.”

Hunter Moore
Hunter Moore, songwriter/playwright

“If I designed a graduate program just for myself, it would be like the MLAS: stimulating subject matter and friendly, enthusiastic, encouraging professors and classmates with whom I still remain in contact several years later. After completing a creative writing class, several of us started a writers workshop to read and critique each other's work. That workshop still meets monthly. What more can I say?”

Leonard Folgarait
Leonard Folgarait, Professor of History of Art
Vanderbilt University

“Teaching MLAS students has always been a unique and stimulating experience for me in that the students are completely committed to life-long learning and consider it a crucial aspect of their outlook on life. In turn, it makes me feel as a teacher that I am immersed in an experience of life-long teaching, and that learning and teaching are ultimately the same process, and that we all leave the classroom newly energized by that dynamic exchange”

Katherine Carroll
Katherine Carroll, Assistant Professor (non-tenure track)
Director of Public Policy Studies
Political Science Department

“This may sound selfish, but for me, the best part of teaching in the MLAS program is how much I end up learning from my students. Because musical meaning is so deeply personal, the diversity of life experiences to be found around an MLAS seminar table makes for fascinating conversation and, at times, surprising and profound self-discovery for all involved. Because MLAS students are highly motivated, mature, and truly invested in the learning process, a sense of camaraderie, shared purpose, and trust can develop very quickly in the classroom. I find such teaching environments rare and inspiring, and for this reason many of my most cherished teaching experiences have been in the MLAS program.”

Scott Hylbert
Scott Hylbert, Media Marketing Strategist

“I thought my window for graduate school had closed. I found out about the Vanderbilt MLAS program from someone who described it as both a "bucket list thing" and "master in mid-life crisis". What appealed to me was earning a graduate degree from a top ranked institution while studying literature, creative writing and the arts. The classmates I've met in the program come from diverse backgrounds, are intellectually curious and bring rich life experiences to each class discussion. And the professors are world class! The tough part is leaving, I want to take more classes! For my Capstone Project I took inspiration from a lesser-known Jack London novel and turned it into a 9 tune song-cycle which is now available on iTunes, Spotify and YouTube. Combining the academic experience with one's passion is what this program is all about.”

Stan Link
Stan Link, Assistant Professor of the Philosophy and Analysis of Music
Department: Blair School of Music

“The main reason I enjoy teaching in Vanderbilt’s MLAS program is that the students make very direct contributions to its quality and character. MLAS offers a select handful of courses each semester, and they are constantly changing. This means that at any given moment, the character of the program depends a great deal on the students themselves. Each student has the very real possibility of transforming the classroom experience for themselves, for the other students and for me as their professor. The students in the MLAS program bring a lot of experience into class with them. But far from being peripheral to the content of the course, their experience becomes central. As a professor, I get to teach courses in way that I never would otherwise. Regardless of the course’s topic, the students are a full partner in what we do.”

James McMurray
James McMurray, Chief Executive Officer

“As someone who completed my undergraduate degree later in life, and who really enjoyed the experience, I was looking for a unique graduate program which offered access to great professors, compelling course material, and a diverse cohort. The MLAS program has delivered all three above my expectation. I have taken classes with some amazingly knowledgeable and talented professors, experienced courses in subjects of great interest to me, and made some lifelong friends who were enrolled for similar reasons. The seminar approach, class format, and scheduling made it really easy for me to attend while balancing my job responsibilities. The classes have been challenging, socially engaging, and most importantly stimulating. Overall the MLAS program has been a very rich life experience.”

Donna Priesmeyer
Donna Priesmeyer, Executive Producer
MTV Networks

“In the spring of 2002 I was eager for a new creative challenge. Within the same week, two friends who didn't know each other recommended Vanderbilt's MLAS program. I learned that the course selection was exciting and the evening class schedule would enable me to work graduate studies into my busy personal and professional life. I began taking classes in the fall and soon discovered that this program was exactly what I was looking for.

I'm now in the bittersweet process of registering for my last class. I feel a great sense of accomplishment at the prospect of earning a Masters Degree from Vanderbilt University, but I will certainly miss the challenging and intellectually stimulating opportunities this program offers. Through my participation in the MLAS program, I have gained insights and made friends that will last a lifetime. I am most grateful for the opportunity and highly recommend it.”

Adrienne Outlaw
Adrienne Outlaw, Artist and Arts Writer

“Getting an MLAS degree from Vanderbilt is one of the most fun and fulfilling pursuits I have ever undertaken. Each semester MLAS students choose a class from a small yet impressive listing of subjects. Many of us pursue the program to round out our other degrees or professional pursuits and thrive on the lively and intense discussions in class. To be able to debate a given subject not only with a university professor, but also with the fellow MLAS students representing a broad range of expertise — from doctors to artists, from engineers to architects, from scientists to attorneys — is an opportunity not to be missed by anyone searching for a rich educational and zesty experience.”

Wayne Wood
Wayne Wood, Director of Publications at Vanderbilt Medical Center

“The MLAS program has been one of the best educational experiences my life. I have read great literature, learned history that somehow my other 16 years of schooling had neglected, and now know how a geologist knows how old a rock is. The program has been challenging and fun, and the students are among the most interesting people I've met. Currently I am working on my thesis on medicine and popular music, and look forward to crossing the stage shaking the chancellor's hand in May, 2007.”

Beth Matter
Beth Matter, Lawyer & Business Owner

“I had wanted to go to graduate school for some time and found the MLAS program to be perfect for me. Not only was there a variety of interesting courses to choose from, but class discussions lived up to the program's promise of intellectual rigor. That degree has led me on the path to lifelong learning.”

Barbara Tsakirgis
Barbara Tsakirgis  Associate Prof Classics & Art History

“I have had the opportunity to teach courses three times in Vanderbilt University’s Masters of Liberal Arts and Science program. The experience has been rewarding in every way and compliments my experience teaching undergraduate and graduate students. While some of my students in the MLAS program have had little background in ancient art or history, they have all come to the classroom with tremendous enthusiasm to learn as much as possible; their energy has many times served as a welcome contrast to the lack of focus exhibited by a few of my undergraduate students. With their long lives of experience, my students in the MLAS program have brought insight that twenty year olds have simply not yet acquired. I have been able to take many of the comments and observations made by my MLAS students back to the undergraduate classroom to enhance my teaching.”

David Joffe
David Joffe, Attorney

“I have enjoyed thoroughly my participation in the Vanderbilt MLAS program and highly recommend it to anyone who values the university classroom experience and learning more about interesting subjects. The dedication and interest of the professors teaching in the program is readily apparent. The diversity of the students with varied educational and work backgrounds contributes greatly to the value of the program. I especially like the variety of courses that are offered. Vanderbilt has put together a great program, and I would encourage anyone interested in expanding their horizons to consider enrolling.”

John Lachs
John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy

“Students in the MLAS program bring a wealth of knowledge into the classroom. Shirley and I learned a great deal from them and are proud to call many of them our friends. Having students who are anxious to learn and immediately integrate what they learn with their principles and experiences is the dream of every teacher. MLAS classes make this dream a reality.”

Marshall Eakin
Marshall Eakin, Professor of History

“The MLAS program has been one of the most interesting and rewarding teaching experiences in my twenty-three years at Vanderbilt. I teach Latin American history at all levels, from first-year students to advanced graduate students. Each of my classes challenges me in different ways with different types of students. What I enjoy most about the my MLAS classes is working with highly motivated, mature students who bring to the classroom a very wide variety of experiences and training. This group challenges me to teach and think about Latin America in more diverse and sophisticated ways than any of the other courses I offer. The MLAS classes I have taught have been an enriching experience for me, and I hope, for my students.”

Jenny Atkinson
Jenny Atkinson, Special Projects Coordinator for the First Amendment Center

“After a number of years pursuing a career, the MLAS is the perfect way to renew, recharge and reconnect: renew your educational path through a wide variety of intellectually stimulating courses; recharge your batteries by participating in discussions led by leading authorities; and reconnect with others equally passionate about continuous learning.”

Kerek Frierson
Kerek Frierson, Research Coordinator Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center

“Participating in the MLAS program is like visiting a new well of knowledge every semester. Each class is a refreshing renewal of the learning spirit. I have seen time and again the professor’s enthusiasm when conversing with motivated, mature students, who themselves provide another channel for the outpouring of creative thoughts and ideas. The MLAS professors have “been there” and are intent on communicating the substance of their experiences. The breadth of knowledge among the students in each class is impressive and nurtures an exchange of ideas at both the intellectual and personal levels. It is such a pleasure to be in a position where learning is not a one-way exchange of ideas, but is instead based on interaction between students and professors. ”

Judy Moss
Judy Moss,
Assistant to the Associate Provost & Dean of Students, Vanderbilt University

“As a student in the Vanderbilt MLAS Program, I have joyfully rediscovered my love for writing and reading! After many years spent focusing on my children and their futures, I can now focus once again on my own intellectual pursuits. The stimulating MLAS classes have added a creative dimension to my life, and I feel fortunate to be part of this program at Vanderbilt! ”

Judy Moss
Stephen Doster,  Editor, Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology

“Vanderbilt's MLAS program provides a great foundation for anyone in today's job market where most workers will hold numerous positions in different fields during their lifetimes. The ability to master concrete and abstract concepts are becoming prerequisites, and the MLAS program provides exceptional education by requiring students to think critically and creatively across a variety of disciplines – ethics, history, science, theology, and the arts. Its multi-disciplinary curriculum challenges students in areas of study outside their normal comfort zones. The end result is the confidence to objectively reason and problem-solve regardless of the subject matter.”