COLUMBIA CITY â 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.
âFollow your dreams, and you can always do it,â said Helen.
âI really didnât think when I started out that I would be able to do it, but I found out that I can. Itâs probably been harder for me than a lot of people, but I stuck to it, and Iâm proud that Iâve done it.â
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.
âIâm looking forward to getting out there and finding a job, and Iâm interested to find out what it will be,â 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.
âI said, âWell, why not,ââ 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.
âShe started out in Early Childhood education, and now sheâs in the Culinary Arts, and I think thatâs her real niche,â said Helen.
After already taking classes, Helen said she realized it would be a good opportunity for her to work with the elderly.
âFor 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,â 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.
âItâs really been a challenge,â said Helen. âI 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.â
Other than doing what Helen called âdouble studyingâ there were differences, she also had to learn new terminology and how to fit in with the other students.
âIâve made some friends with the faculty members,â said Helen.
Amidst the challenges, she has received support from her husband and other family members.
âHe has taken over a lot of housekeeping responsibilities and allowed me to just go and study as much as I needed,â she said.
As an LPN, Helen will be able to work in private duty, home health care or at a doctorâs office.
With a heartfelt wish, Helen wants to connect to the patients she cares for by aiding their physical and emotional needs.
âI want to show them that there is somebody who cares,â she said. âYou walk in a nursing home, and you have no idea who each person was prior to when they got there.â
Helen said wherever her path takes her, the experience has already been rewarding.
âI tackled this, and Iâm going to make it,â she said.
May 4, Helen will walk at the graduation ceremony for her family who supported her. She will graduate with an honors cord.
âI am definitely looking forward to it,â said Helen.