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DREAM COME TRUE: Proving it's never too late for college

April 27, 2012

Helen Carter

COLUMBIA CITY — Sitxty-two-year-old Helen Carter, an Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest student from Churubusco, will walk at her graduation ceremony this spring, fulfilling a dream.
“Follow your dreams, and you can always do it,” said Helen.
“I really didn’t think when I started out that I would be able to do it, but I found out that I can. It’s probably been harder for me than a lot of people, but I stuck to it, and I’m proud that I’ve done it.”
Although Helen is currently earning her Technical Certificate in Practical Nursing, and she will officially graduate in July after completing 10 more credit hours, she still plans to walk in the ceremony May 4.
“I’m looking forward to getting out there and finding a job, and I’m interested to find out what it will be,” she said.
Years ago, Helen originally completed an undergraduate degree in psychology, working in Pennsylvania. Many of her classes in college originally involved speech pathology and audiology. After marrying her husband, Pathologist Pat Carter, Helen worked for 35 years with the hearing impaired in a medical setting, but she found herself unemployed at the age of 60.
At that point, her granddaughter, Micah Holder, a senior at Snyder High School in Fort Wayne, asked her Helen if she wanted to go to nursing school with her at Ivy Tech.
“I said, ‘Well, why not,’” said Helen.
Helen began taking classes in May of 2010, getting some of the prerequisites out of the way. By the fall, when Micah was ready to start, she had already changed her mind.
“She started out in Early Childhood education, and now she’s in the Culinary Arts, and I think that’s her real niche,” said Helen.
After already taking classes, Helen said she realized it would be a good opportunity for her to work with the elderly.
“For years, the general population of the people who wore hearing aids were the elderly so I worked with them for years and really like the one on one contact with that population so I decided that nursing might be a good way to continue that,” said Helen.
She is grateful for her push in the right direction, but achieving her dreams has not always been an easy road.
When Helen was in college for her undergraduate in psychology, she said there was one computer on the campus, and she never saw it.
“It’s really been a challenge,” said Helen. “I would definitely encourage anybody who is interested in doing what I did at my age to take a computer class first. There have been lots of tears and lots of sitting up long hours fighting with a computer.”
Other than doing what Helen called “double studying” there were differences, she also had to learn new terminology and how to fit in with the other students.
“I’ve made some friends with the faculty members,” said Helen.
Amidst the challenges, she has received support from her husband and other family members.
“He has taken over a lot of housekeeping responsibilities and allowed me to just go and study as much as I needed,” she said.
As an LPN, Helen will be able to work in private duty, home health care or at a doctor’s office.
With a heartfelt wish, Helen wants to connect to the patients she cares for by aiding their physical and emotional needs.
“I want to show them that there is somebody who cares,” she said. “You walk in a nursing home, and you have no idea who each person was prior to when they got there.”
Helen said wherever her path takes her, the experience has already been rewarding.
“I tackled this, and I’m going to make it,” she said.
May 4, Helen will walk at the graduation ceremony for her family who supported her. She will graduate with an honors cord.
“I am definitely looking forward to it,” said Helen.

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