celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Education was always top priority
Gary Pitner
Age: 51
Occupation: Executive director, Panhandle Regional Planning Commission (30 years with the organization, 22 years as executive director)

Where did you receive your education?
High School: Amarillo High School; College: Amarillo College, West Texas State University (now West Texas A & M University)

How has your education played a role in your life today?
The formal education I received plays a big role in my everyday professional life. I have a bachelor's degree in public administration, so there is a direct link between my college course work and my day-to-day professional responsibilities. I have been able to put those classroom lessons to work for more than 30 years.

What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?
Getting up in time to make 8 a.m. classes! Seriously, the greatest challenge was understanding and successfully sorting through the seemingly limitless array of educational/career options and making a choice appropriate for me. I received great advice and direction from Dr. J. Pat Stephens, now retired as a faculty member from WTAMU, who inspired me to pursue a career in public service.

What is the value of your education?
The obvious answer is monetary. I have no doubt that my ability to earn a living has been positively impacted by my formal education. However, beyond the paycheck, education has served to broaden and deepen my perceptions and perspectives on life and living.

What would you say to someone who's undecided about continuing their education?
Continuing your education is a "no-brainer." I realize that life can be difficult and circumstances complicated. However, finding a way to make education a priority is the right option every time.

When did you make education a priority?
I actually don't remember education not being a priority. Although I am a first-generation college graduate, my parents had college expectations of me and, quite frankly, you don't mess with mother's expectations.

What made you realize the importance of education in your life?
Again, my parents made it clear that education was important. From first grade forward, doing no less than my best in the classroom was the expectation.

Did you ever think of quitting? What made you keep going?
Sure, I thought about quitting. Working 40 hours per week and carrying a full college course load was not a lot of fun. However, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve an internship in my field of study in my junior year. That internship experience convinced me that I was not going very far in the work world without a college degree.

2009 Stories
2008 Archive
calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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