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Lifelong learner

Times-Mail Article
October 13, 2008

Times-Mail / PETE SCHREINER MITCHELL - Marilyn Baugh studys at home. The 58-year-old was laid off from Dana Corp. and has gone back to school, studying office administration at Ivy Tech.

MITCHELL — At 58 years old, Marilyn Baugh is toting a backpack, writing essays and commuting to class. She spends her days listening to teachers and her nights and weekends tackling homework assignments.

To say she’s a non-traditional college student is putting it lightly.

On Nov. 30, 2006, Baugh was permanently laid off from her 13 1/2-year job with Dana Corp. in Mitchell. It was a workplace the longtime Mitchell resident thought she would retire from, but that didn’t happen because the factory shut the doors on its local plant.

“They gave us the option of going back to school or going to work somewhere else,” Baugh said. “I thought I would just go back to work elsewhere, but there wasn’t anything that was paying very well close by. My options were limited, so I thought I should go to school and develop new skills that would be useful in the workplace.”

Less than two months later, Baugh headed to Ivy Tech Community College. Since that time, she’s taken four classes each semester and three classes during the summer months.

“There’s a lot of homework,” she said. “I am going up there four days a week, then I do homework at nights and on weekends. It really eats up a lot of your time. We haven’t been able to go a lot of places or take vacations because of my class schedule. It’s tough.”

It may be tough, but Baugh is faring well — something her husband of 39 years is quite proud of.

“It’s worse than a full-time job,” Tom Baugh said. “And other than two C’s and two B’s, she’s had nothing but A’s in her classes. I really thought it was great that she was going back to school because once you put something in your brain, you can’t take it away.”

Baugh is working toward an associate degree in office administration with an emphasis on the medical field. And so far, she’ll be ready to accept that diploma in May.

“I really feel for those parents who have families or children and are going to school,” Baugh said. “They have to go to school, make meals and still do that work around the house that we housewives have to do. It would be really hard to fit it all in. You really have to be a person who is dedicated and knows how to multi-task to go back to college. In my situation, Tom has been really good to help. If he knows I am tired and have a lot of work to do, he’ll tell me that we can have sandwiches for dinner. It helps to have a supportive spouse.”

And Baugh has even made the dean’s list.

“That’s unbelievable for such an old brain,” her husband said with a chuckle.

Baugh graduated in 1968 from Loogootee High School and went to work at Crane, which is where she met Tom. The two were laid off a short time later. She’s taken bookkeeping courses in the past to help with business ventures the two have dabbled in, but never expected she would be in college at a time when she should be looking toward retirement.

“As an older student, it’s a little harder because you don’t retain as much in your memory as you do when you’re younger,” Baugh said. “But when you’re older, you have a lifetime of experience that you can bring to it. I’ve been through a lot, and I can communicate that better than a younger person. There are other students up there in their 60s, so you don’t get treated any differently because you’re older. The younger students treat all of us really nice, and that’s something I really hadn’t expected. That’s the good thing about Ivy Tech is that it is so diverse.”

The Mitchell woman would encourage anyone to go back to college at any age.

“I think that in today’s world, we’re working in a global economy,” Baugh said. “You have to be highly qualified for companies to want to hire you, and these kids who don’t graduate from high school are shooting themselves in the foot. Life is a learning experience, and you need to keep learning all the time to keep up.”

Times-Mail Staff Writer Krystal Slaten welcomes comments and suggestions at 277-7264 or by e-mail at

More about Marilyn
Age: 58
Education: Graduated in 1968 from Loogootee High School; took bookkeeping courses; now studying office administration with a medical concentration at Ivy Tech Community College.
Personal: Married Tom Baugh of Mitchell on Aug. 9, 1969, and has lived in Mitchell ever since.
Favorite class: Office procedures and dynamics because the teacher made it interesting and she learned a lot about internal and external customers.
Hardest class: Algebra.