No Limits to Learning

Determined, eager, and opportunistic are a few of many words to describe Shirley Schlegel.

By: Miriam Bird & Jake Hreha

Determined, eager, and opportunistic are a few of many words to describe Shirley Schlegel. In addition to already being a grandmother and great-grandmother, she also became an IWU graduate in December 2020 at age eighty-two.

Often when thinking of college students we think of students coming straight out of high school or in their early twenties. Schlegel changed that idea. She proved that new skills can be learned, cognitive abilities can remain high, and that new things can still happen at the age of eighty-two. Schlegel didn't need to be in her twenties to remain relevant, she just needed ambition and a determination to prove to herself there is no age limit for learning.

Back in the day, Schlegel worked as a licensed practical nurse, and her husband was an elementary school principal. They served as missionaries together, and they moved to raise their family in Indiana. In 2017, Schlegel endured a challenging season with the unexpected death of her son and her husband. Throughout the next year, she took time to consider the next steps for her life.

With support from her counselor, Schlegel considered the possibility of returning to school. She had previously heard of Indiana Wesleyan University, and she asked herself, “What do I have to lose? The worst thing they can say is no.”

There Is No Age Limit to Learning

The encouragement from others and her mentality empowered Schlegel to apply, and she received her acceptance to earn her degree in Integrated Studies at IWU. As a student in her early eighties, she knew that her degree would not contribute to a professional career. Instead, she concentrated on how her classes would shape her personal life, worldview, and love for others.

Schlegel shared, “I learned a lot about myself, and knowing that I would not be employable, I thought that I could help myself and somebody else to learn something about themselves. I was able to apply Scripture to everything in my classes, which is amazing because I try to do that with my life.”

One of her most memorable yet challenging assignments was to create a speech presentation with PowerPoint. Schlegel had previous experience giving speeches with her husband on the mission field, but she had never learned how to navigate PowerPoint. She reached out to her church community for training, and at the end of the assignment, she received an A!

She said, “When I had to write a speech for an assignment, that was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. But now, in small group Bible study, I use it all the time! If you have something to share with others, do it! Share what you’re learning about because education never stops, and that is a good thing.”

Choosing Lifelong Learning

Even after graduating, Schlegel is using her time and energy to invest in new opportunities. She is currently learning how to play the keyboard and considering taking additional online courses.

Schlegel encourages others in their pursuit of knowledge, “Be a life-long learner because there’s no age limit to learning. Why sit here, wait, and do nothing? Our brains are bigger than you think.”

IWU is here for you in every season of life! Whether you desire to earn your degree to get your dream job, accomplish your lifetime goal, or simply learn for the sake of learning, check out IWU’s programs.

Miriam Bird

Copywriting Assistant, IWU-National and Global

Miriam Bird assists with content development for IWU–National and Global, capturing student stories and journeys. She is currently a student at IWU–Marion, studying elementary education.

Jake Hreha

SEO Copywriter, IWU

Jake Hreha is a graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising with a concentration in media presentation and design. He is passionate about design, and in his free time he enjoys cycling, traveling, and reading.

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