Program urges schooling for older residents

Jul. 22, 2014 @ 12:36 PM

Locals gathered at Vance-Granville Community College on Wednesday to learn the importance of a higher education.

Ivy Carroll, who is taking prerequisites to become a license practical nurse, said the seminar was just what she needed.

“This really motivated me to keep going, to get up and just do it,” she said. “It was starting to get tough. I was feeling like I am too old to be going to school. But this really encouraged me to go on.”

Kyle Burwell, the college’s coordinator for the human resources department, said “Over 50 and Going Back to School, What a Great Idea!” was the first workshop conducted to promote the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program, a national initiative supporting secondary institutions that train baby boomers in high-demand fields, such as health care, education and social services.

During the seminar, guest speaker Mike Collins, president of a business information entity in Raleigh called the Perfect Workday Company, joked of his own experiences returning to college.

He said going back to school is about developing a love for learning that could help fight off old-age illnesses and lead families to a brighter future.

“Furthering your education will help you be the right person at the right place at the right time,” he said.

VGCC student Bob Campbell, who will finish his degree this year at age 65, agreed with Collins.

“He really hit the nail on the head,” he said. “You reach a certain point in life when you start losing things. You start losing your hair. You start losing your friends. This is how you move forward.”

After Collins spoke, guests made rounds to financial aid and admissions booths set up around the auditorium.

Plus 50 Encore Completion Program director Mary Sue Vickers said more of the 78 million adults born between 1946 and 1964 are healthier and active than in past generations.

“They are more interested in continuing work and being involved in the community,” she said. “That is why it is called the Plus 50 Encore Completion Program. It’s completion of a second act for a new or different occupation.”

The American Association of Colleges provided a $15,000 grant in 2013 for Vance-Granville to participate in the program.

Burwell said they are entering the second year of funding, and she hopes to conduct more programs that bring in seniors thinking about secondary education.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.