Perpetual student shares the joy of lifelong learning

13 degrees and counting

By Dan Landau

Meet Joseph Segriff, the ultimate lifelong learner. Currently enrolled in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Masters of Administrative Science program, he is in his final semester and is about to complete his 14th degree.

segriffThat’s right, 14 degrees. Since the mid-1980s, Segriff has dedicated his life to his education, earning two associate degrees, two bachelor’s degrees, six master’s degrees, one post-master’s degree and three doctorates from a handful of universities including FDU. He’s earned these degrees in fields as diverse as health sciences, education, humanities and psychology. In 2015, he graduated from FDU with an M.A. in general and theoretical psychology.

“I’m a polymath and I really enjoy going to school,” says Segriff. “I like the process of working hard and learning new things. For example, I’m a bio-technology major at one school right now and it’s very hard because I am not naturally a biology student. I’m taking chemistry right now and it works a different part of my brain than my other studies.”

What does Segriff do with all his degrees? “I put them on the wall,” he says. “For a lot of people, getting a degree is a step towards getting a good job, but for me it’s about the accomplishment of earning the degree and learning new things.”

His pursuit of knowledge is also motivated by the idea that an education is one of the few things no one can ever take away. “When you get a degree — you cannot lose it. When you get a job, [keeping] it can depend on getting coffee for your boss.”

Segriff finances his educational interests by attending school part-time, while also teaching part-time at colleges as an adjunct professor. He’s lectured at 16 colleges in New York and New Jersey over the past 26 years in a variety of subjects, including English, speech and psychology. He taught at the Metropolitan Campus from 2012 to 2014.

“I love teaching and I can really empathize with my students because I am almost always a student with them,” he says.

Segriff says his favorite teaching assignment has been his work with prison inmates. “These men and women are doing something constructive while they are in a very bleak environment and they gain ownership over something — which, for some, may be the only thing they ever own. I think I learned more from teaching them than they learned from me,” he says.

While he will complete his M.A.S. degree from FDU very soon, Segriff has no plans to stop adding to his degree collection. “I just enjoy learning a lot,” he says. “I really enjoy going to school.”