When I first decided that getting a (third) masters degree was my path to late-life happiness, I thought I was unique and that I’d get a lot of odd looks and serious ribbing. Surprisingly, I found a lot of support and many similar stories.
I really only need look to my own mother and father to see examples of growth after fifty. At fifty, my mom was pursuing a Doctorate (something that I am obviously not cut out for…Masters degrees are my “thing”!). My dad, since turning fifty, has published a book, written two memoirs, become a certified financial planner…and, I can’t fail to mention, jumped out of a plane and gone to Spain to run with (or watch) the bulls. (What happens in Spain, stays in Spain!)
When I started to tell my own peers, however, I really was surprised. All in their fifties, I’ve found such similar stories to mine. There’s a friend who shattered her hip in her late thirties and now wants to get a Masters in exercise science. Then there is the friend who found that by going to a personal trainer during a difficult time of life, found a life couch as an added benefit and now wants to pursue both. Even my big sister is now pursuing a Masters…one which, like mine, draws upon her unique background and points her to an interesting and unique future.
Here I am, 26 years into a corporate career in purchasing, starting a Masters in Environmental Science. I started out completely bored in high school, looking for the most difficult college degree I could find. I looked to either aeronautic or chemical engineering. I ended up with chemical. It was a real challenge, one for which my high school didn’t fully prepare me.
When I graduated, in 1986, OPEC fell apart and the demand for chemical engineers plummetted. I got my MBA instead of a job. From there, I ended up in purchasing. With less than a year under my belt, I found that my company would pay for me to get a masters…so I got a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering. Why not? Degree in hand, I found a position working with my company’s suppliers to improve their manufacturing processes.
Years later, I find myself drawn to water. There are water crises everywhere…too much, too little, too polluted…but where I live, there is 20% of the world’s fresh water…The problems and solutions are unique to each location…moving fresh water around the world is not the solution.
I am at an age and at a point in my career where I just want to follow my passions…but I really want to make a difference too. For me, the answer is a new Master’s degree…for others, it’s something different. For all of us? Following our hearts!
Find the Joy in the Journey…and may your personal journey fulfill your personal legacy!