All too often in today's society, people don't follow the old adage of finishing what they start. And sometimes they don't even take the first step toward greater accomplishments -- especially where continuing education is concerned. That is why Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman deserves special recognition for not giving up.
At 59, Skillman recently earned her first college degree -- an associate's with a concentration in business -- from Indiana Wesleyan University. Though she's taking the semester off, she plans to continue taking classes toward a bachelor's degree in the near future. In doing so, Skillman sets two key examples for Hoosiers: finish what you begin and never give up on the dream of a higher education -- regardless of age.
The Times recently reported that five region institutions of higher learning -- Calumet College of St. Joseph, Indiana University Northwest, Purdue University Calumet, Purdue University North Central and Ivy Tech -- all posted six-year graduation rates of 36 percent or lower. Meanwhile, universities and colleges on average nationwide saw 55.9 percent of their students graduate over six years.
Those numbers are in part swayed by the number of students who completed early degree work at the local institutions, then moved on to bigger state schools. But for those who dropped out -- for whatever reason -- the lieutenant governor's degree completion should serve as a reminder of what can be accomplished when one stays focused.
Completing a higher education degree is tough for a reason. Degree recipients are supposed to be experts thoroughly trained in their chosen fields. The task becomes even tougher for single parents or other non-traditional students seeking to enrich their lives and careers through advanced education. But Hoosiers such as Skillman and countless others have shown a college education can be successfully obtained while balancing the hard work with the important tasks of caring for families -- or even administering state government.
It's easy to concoct excuses for why one cannot achieve challenging goals in life, such as earning a college degree. But the heroic and dedicated among us find a way to get it done.