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Q & A with Redge Mahaffey

Redge Mahaffey, BS '71, MS '73, PhD '76, graduated from UMD and wrote an auto-biographical novel about his experience here. The novel, entitled A Higher Education, won a Literary Award and was the basis for his movie, Life 101. Below, Dr. Mahaffey answers a few questions regarding his journey.

What led you to the University of Maryland?

Because I graduated from high school in the bottom half of my class (I spent most of my time reading science fiction and physics books), my choices for a quality education were limited.  Fortunately, I scored well on the SATs/ACTs.  Maryland was inexpensive and a quality school.  At that time, you only had to graduate from a Maryland high school with a C or better and they let you in.

How would you describe your experience here?

I had a terrific time all 9 years I was at MD.  Life in Calvert Hall dorm was a great experience.  I wrote about it in my novel A Higher Education, which won a Literary Award.  The novel was also the basis for my movie Life 101, starring Corey Haim, Ami Dolenz and Keith Coogan.

My time in graduate school was also very productive and enjoyable.  I had the good fortune to pick a wonderful thesis topic and managed to produce 7 peer-reviewed publications from my thesis (including 3 Physical Review Letters).  In addition, it only took me 5 years to earn my PhD, which was a relatively short time.

Where do you currently work?

I am retired (for the 2nd time), but I work as a manager of my 45 rental houses as well as a Senior Investment Consultant for Inverness Real Estate Investments of Walnut Creek California.  I help everyday millionaires invest in high-quality commercial property around the country.

What does your position require?

A solid knowledge of real estate, as well as securities.  I hold a Series 7 and Series 66 license, as well as a real estate license.  I evaluate and recommend real estate investments to my clients. 

How has your Physics degree helped you?

The math and critical thinking skills I gained at U of MD have always served me in all of my jobs.  This includes doing the budget on the fly for the 5 movies I have produced, as well as working as the Executive Vice President and Treasurer of SFA, Inc, a 100+ million dollar a year defense contractor.  The ability to think critically and to present the information to single clients as well as groups of clients.

Do you enjoy your career?

I have enjoyed all of my careers.  Physicist, Manager of scientists and engineers, university instructor, real estate investor, movie writer, producer and director, as well as real estate investment consultant.

What was your first job out of college?

I worked as an NRC Research Associate at the Naval Research Lab doing research on intense particle beams, x-rays and lasers.

What advice would you give current students? Do you remember any problems that you faced while here?

Enjoy life.  Always stay a student, i.e. continue to learn new things every day.  Don’t be afraid to try new things.  As Mark Twain said, “show me a man who has never failed, and I’ll show you a failure.”






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