Kathy Valentine is just three credits away from finally earning her college degree. It might sound like an incongruous addition to the freewheeling life of a rock star—Valentine also happens to be a guitarist, songwriter, and bassist for the Go-Go’s, whose catchy, hook-heavy pop songs actually make you want to relive the 80s. But her studies at St. Edward’s University, in Austin, Texas, make all the sense in the world and tell as much of a story as any song she’s ever written or melody she’s ever sung. Maybe even a better one.

For one thing, she knows that pursuing her inter-disciplinary degree in fine arts and English literature sends an unmistakable message to her teenage daughter. “I’m putting myself out there, you know, at an age when a lot of people are pulling themselves back from being out there,” Valentine told me. “I really want to zero in on that messaging to anyone who starts looking at the aging process as something where it means you’re supposed to retire or slow down or get smaller in the world. I feel like I’m getting bigger in the world.”