Forest Bridges, senior general studies major, plays the guitar and sings a self-written folk song called “Nobody But You.”

It was the summer of 1969 when Forest Bridges took his first class at MSSU.

Next week, he’s finally going to graduate.

Bridges, who will receive his general studies degree, originally came to Southern right out of high school as an art major. He was also briefly an English major before he took a break from school.

A 35-year break.

Coming back hasn’t been too difficult of a transition, though.

“It’s like I haven’t missed a beat,” Bridges said.

The biggest adjustment was the changing technology in higher education.

“I had to just learn that a step at a time,” Bridges said.

Frequent visitors to the library have probably seen or heard Bridges on his typewriter. He said he’s always enjoyed using a typewriter more than computers.

“I’ve never gotten into the habit of word processing [on computers],” Bridges said. “Electric typewriting was the high-tech thing when I was here the first time. I took a class in typewriting, and I never really evolved beyond that.”

His teachers have never had a problem with it, either.

“I think, in a way, they like it because I can get more words on a page,” he said.  

One of Bridges’ hobbies is folk singing, and he joked that he’s “struggled with it” since 1965.

“In high school, I saw a folk group perform … and somehow I knew, in some way or another, that was my destiny,” he said.

Bridges played in 2011 Missouri Southern Talent Show, and also takes advantage of occassional “open mic” events.

“If I have the opportunity to perform three or four times a year, that’s [good],” Bridges said. “I have a repertoire of around 50 songs.”

Bridges spent a few decades working in several local factories.

“I came back to college because the factory jobs have left, at least the factory jobs where I had a background in. They just shut down and left,” he said.

When Bridges made his return to college, he put in a couple years at Crowder College in Neosho, Mo.

“I needed to do serious work to improve my cumulative GPA, and I felt like Crowder was the place to go,” Bridges said.

Bridges, who became 60 years old this month, said his parents moved to Carthage in 1954, and he lived there until he sold his house last month.

“As soon as I take my last final, I’m leaving  for Mexico and getting married,” Bridges said.

Bridges’ bride-to-be is named Reyna Ramirez, who he met at church. They will live in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

“What I would like to do is take law classes online and go to law school online,” Bridges said of his future plans. “I’ll maybe do some freelance writing down on the border.”