Always Learning: Virginia Tobiason
A lifelong learning journey
Virginia Tobiason has always been a voracious learner. After spending “high school in libraries,” she became a registered nurse; received a bachelor’s in economics from Fordham University; earned her MBA from New York University; and has taken on numerous roles, including senior director and consultant, at Abbott Laboratories from 1982 until today. But that’s just the beginning of her story.
When Tobiason first heard of the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults, she remembers thinking, “It's now or never.” Eager to delve into liberal arts, she enrolled in the program while continuing to work full-time—often arriving on early morning business flights with treatises by Aristotle in tow.
After completing the Program in 2002, Tobiason was hooked: “Once you start, you become addicted. And once you get to know the people, it becomes a little community.” Since then, she’s taken over 60 courses with Graham’s “fantastic instructors”—covering everything from Proust and quantum physics to piano—and two Alumni Sequences: Modern Tradition and The Romans.
“I look back and I think, ‘I knew nothing!’ I now know a lot more than I knew then,” she laughs. “You're missing out on a lot if you don't keep learning.”
Tobiason brings that same enthusiasm for learning to her philanthropic support of the Graham School, generously supporting the School’s annual fund and even designating Graham through a charitable bequest in her will.
“I think very highly of the Basic Program, and I believe the liberal arts need to be supported. With all the cutbacks we’re seeing, I don't think there's enough appreciation for them,” she explains.
This exceptional generosity affords countless students a chance to share in the experience Tobiason has treasured for years:
“This program has been so valuable to me. The instructors are truly committed; you make new friends and get new views. It’s been a real plus in my life.”