Age doesn't stop Valparaiso man from earning advanced degrees

2014-01-06T00:00:00Z 2014-01-06T10:43:08Z Age doesn't stop Valparaiso man from earning advanced degreesSusan O’Leary Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 06, 2014 12:00 am  • 

VALPARAISO | For Bob Minard, the optimistic saying “50 is the new 30” is outdated.

Throw in a couple more decades, and his mantra could be “70 is the new 30.”

While most folks his age might be settling down and tapping into their retirement plans, Minard, 64, recently received his M.B.A. from Purdue University and plans to enroll in a Ph.D. program next fall.

While he considers himself to be a lifelong learner, Minard’s path to higher education has not always been a straight one.

A bit of a late bloomer, Minard was around 32 in 1981 when he received his B.S. in business from Purdue University. Because jobs were scarce when he graduated, he moved to California and relied on his experience in carpentry and construction to earn a living.

A few breaks later, he went into banking and eventually garnered more than 20 years of experience in building and mortgage loans.

Just before 2008’s financial meltdown, Minard left banking of his own volition.

“I didn’t like mortgages,” said Minard. “What they were doing was legal, but it wasn’t ethical.”

Moving back to Indiana, Minard was “basically retired” and worked on a honey-do list.

“My family had me doing anything and everything,” said Minard. “In 2007, I decided I wanted to go back to school.”

After receiving a technical certificate in computer information systems at Ivy Tech, Minard worked for the school part-time. Administrators soon tapped his wealth of business knowledge and his talent for instruction, and he began teaching student success classes for first year students.

Minard soon realized it wasn’t enough.

“I wanted to connect more with students, to give back from my experience,” said Minard. “In first year seminar, I got a lot of appreciation, and I could relate some of the things I did in life to what they were learning. But I realized I would rather teach more of what I specialized in life. I wanted to teach computer and business classes, and I needed master’s degree for that.”

So Minard enrolled in Purdue North Central’s weekend M.B.A. program, a grueling 18-month program for students with a bachelor’s degree in business.

“Everything’s accelerated….the hardest part is all the reading. There were always three or four books plus outside material,” said Minard. “I was teaching two classes at Ivy Tech and working as an advisor and going to school.”

Once Minard received his Purdue M.B.A. in May 2013, PNC hired him “immediately” to teach a business class at the Westville campus in the fall.

And although that experience went well, Minard has realized once again, it is not enough.

“I’ve always been interested in learning. Even when I worked for bank, they always had me going to school, seminars, and training,” said Minard. “I’ve always been a continuing learner…education has always fascinated me.”

So next fall, Minard will begin a four-year Ph.D. program at either Purdue or Indiana State University. With his degree, he hopes to continue to teach and research.

Yet Minard sometimes questions his choices.

“Well, let’s see . . . I’ll be 70 when I’m done,” said Minard. “I have grandsons who are 16 and 20 and a new granddaughter on the way… my kids are all over the map. Sometimes I wonder if I should be visiting the family more. You wonder -- are you doing the things you should be doing?”

Even though he may not see his family as often as he would like, as a father and grandfather, Minard is still an inspiration to his family.

“My kids all think I still do too much,” said Minard. “But they do like that I continue going to school. It gives them the incentive to continue doing those kinds of things as well.”

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