Steve Brown did not cross the stage 50 years ago to celebrate his UCSB biology degree. Saturday morning, he got his chance.
Within the past half-century, Mr. Brown’s trajectory included another degree from UCSB: a Master’s in biology. He had plans on attending veterinary school at UC Davis, but another opportunity fell into his lap — real estate.
“I got my real estate license and moonlighted while I was studying,” Mr. Brown said.
Although Mr. Brown felt out of his comfort zone in the beginning, he began to enjoy working in real estate so much that the side gig became his main occupation. In 2002, Mr. Brown opened a commercial real estate company called Radius Group with his partners.
The occupation helped Mr. Brown stay in the town which he knew he was going to call home. Mr. Brown grew up in Los Angeles County and moved to Santa Barbara for UCSB.
“Everyone wants to stay in Santa Barbara,” said Mr. Brown. “The key is to find a way to make a living to stay here.”
Despite his interest and joy for real estate, Mr. Brown made sure he did not force his daughter Sabrina Brown into following his footsteps. Mr. Brown believes that parents should encourage their kids to find something they’re passionate about.
Ms. Brown, a UCSB alumna that graduated about 20 years ago, is now a licensed accountant.
At 72, Mr. Brown crossed the stage with a radiant smile that caused the thousands-strong crowd to light up in cheers. When asked why he thinks the crowd reacted this way, Mr. Brown chuckled and said, “They probably thought: ‘Here’s some old fart that made it through college. God bless him. Let’s give him a hand.'”
And so many hands clapped for him that he felt overwhelmed.
“It was a real high,” he said.
The support and friendliness he experienced from UCSB students Saturday morning was a sweet surprise to him though.
“I honestly thought that I would go up there, stand in line, and that everybody would just totally ignore me,” he said.
Much to the contrary.
“Any of the kids who made eye contact, they would smile and say congrats,” Mr. Brown gushed.
Although Mr. Brown did not attend his Master’s graduation either, he has no plans to return next year for the 50th anniversary of that degree.
He does desire to return to graduation as a guest speaker in hopes of preparing graduates for their futures ahead.
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