Norma Beecher, BLS, Spring 2015​

It’s never too late to finish your college education, and Norma Beecher is a wonderful example of the dedication and persistence it takes to graduate. She earned her Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) online degree this spring at the age of 85, fulfilling a goal she set for herself when she graduated from high school in 1948.

“I thought about going to the University of Iowa when I graduated high school. The goal has just always been in the back of my mind, but I had to put it aside at times. The important thing is not to give up. You have to make yourself start again and just keep going. It helps to have a lot of people to remind you and help you keep going.”

Beecher had a limited elementary certificate which allowed her to teach at a country school a few years after high school. Though she had never been to a country school, she accepted the position and taught there one year before teaching fourth and fifth grades in Oakville, IA. When a teaching position came open in West Branch, it was an opportunity to be close to the University of Iowa. Beecher started taking classes in the summer of 1956 and the Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree program began in 1977.

“It was just great that I could take classes from The University of Iowa, and I could keep doing my job.”

Because of the number of years Beecher was in the degree program, she worked with a number of advisors and faculty. Her advisors and professors both helped her to persevere and complete her original goal.

“Jim Maxey is the reason I got through statistics. He helped me every week. Tom Walz kept me going in my last class, he was just wonderful. I didn’t really care for statistics, but I really enjoyed the women in the bible and holocaust classes.”

Beecher took all of the political science classes offered. She helped out on several local campaigns and remembered knocking on so many doors to help Ed Mezvinsky get elected. One thing, Beecher thinks is most important in politics is that grass roots is the way to go, it’s how to get things going.

“I voted every time I could. Sometimes candidates forget people who don’t have computers and that’s important to remember.”

Due to her political activity, Beecher went to the White House four times, and was personally invited to a news conference and lunch with Jimmy Carter. Flying for the first time in her life, Beecher went by herself, took a taxi to the hotel and spent time at the Smithsonian.

She has some advice for prospective online degree students, “I recommend having knowledge of technology. When I started there weren’t any computers. Taking my classes online was good for me. I liked it because it was just me and the instructor. I could ask my questions and get answers.”

To achieve your goal of a degree, Beecher advices others to stick with it even when difficult things happen in your life.

When asked how her bachelor degree may change her life, Beecher has this to say. “I’m not sure how having my bachelor’s degree is going to change my life, I’ll have to let you know, but I am glad I got it.”