Riggers celebrates with his family

Riggers celebrates with stepson Nick (13), son Quinn (5), and wife Karen. Not pictured, son Ari (1). (Photography by Robert Hart)

Generation ex

Eric Riggers goes from EX’99 to AB’17.

Eric Riggers, AB’17, was EX’99 for 18 years. When he took a leave of absence as a fourth-year, he intended to be away for just one quarter. But he got swept up in the dot-com era: “If you were technically proficient in 1999 in Seattle, you could get a job,” he says. “A geography degree wasn’t that relevant.”

Over the years he worked in various software jobs. He lived in Australia. He got married and started a family. But the fact that he had never completed his degree “gnawed at me,” he says. “My whole identity was so tied up with being a student. That was my whole life. I wanted my thesis to be perfect, to sum up my entire academic experience.”

Last summer Riggers, now an IT manager for Mills Fleet Farm in Wisconsin, finally turned in that thesis, about water use in the Tigris and Euphrates basin. His adviser asked for minor revisions, which he completed while working full time and with a baby at home. “I wanted to show my family there’s value in finishing what you started,” he says.

This year the College started a new tradition: graduates received their diplomas at small ceremonies with their residence hall communities. Since Maclean House, where Riggers lived, no longer exists, he graduated with Max Palevsky Residential Commons, which opened two years after he left. He was chair of Doc Films for two years, however, so he can say, “I have met Max Palevsky.”