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IU Northwest alumna proves it is never too late to go to college

Linda Eyermann's career is going strong at South Shore Arts

Wednesday May 22, 2013

At age 51, Linda Eyermann earned her fine arts degree; a decade later, her career is going strong at South Shore Arts.

Linda Eyermann was 45 years old when she first walked into an Indiana University Northwest classroom. Then a stay-at-home mom to four children who were growing up fast, Eyermann, of Valparaiso, had no intention of pursuing a degree at first. Rather, she simply wanted to improve her drawing skills.

But Eyermann enjoyed that first class with Professor David Klamen so much, that one class turned into another, and another. It was an art history class that hooked her, she said, and her appetite for learning, it seemed, was insatiable.

After three years, she had enough credits to call herself a sophomore, so Eyermann began pondering the idea of pursuing a degree. But at her age, she admitted, that notion was unsettling.

“Quite frankly, I thought I was past the time of going back to school,” she said.

But then a good friend nudged her with a powerful statement.

“I had said that I would be 51 when I graduate,” she recalled. “She said, ‘You’ll be 51 whether you graduate or not.’”

Eyermann thought about that and then formally enrolled at IU Northwest full-time.

In 2003, Eyermann earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and suddenly moved on to a new challenge. Surprisingly, the same doubt that had almost stifled her desire to pursue her degree did not surface as she faced graduation.

“I know that I am a hard worker and an ethical person and a creative person,” she said. “I knew that there was a place for me in the world. I had no doubts that I would find something. I wasn’t sure that it would be so closely related to my degree, working in the arts, but this is perfect. I was very fortunate to find something that makes me feel fulfilled.”

The perfect job she found was as Director of Education for the South Shore Arts (SSA) and the Northwest Indiana Symphony.

“It was really a perfect fit because I get to do so many of the things that I enjoy doing,” Eyermann said.

One of her favorite responsibilities is to facilitate an art appreciation program called “Art in Focus.” Eyermann said she shares a lot in common with the folks who participate in this program. Much like her, they are art lovers, many of them retired, who simply want to learn more.

On the other side of the spectrum, she also loves working with kids. Taking a literacy-based art program into the schools is one example of the many outreach activities that SSA provides.

“We serve more than 28,000 children with education, programs, performances, exhibitions, and more,” Eyermann said.

It seems that no day or task is ever the same at Eyermann’s workplace, something she appreciates almost as much as her college education.

The grandmother of four said she received more from her college experience than just a fine arts education.

“I really loved IU Northwest because of the diverse student population,” Eyermann said. “There are so many different people. I learned a lot from my peers, my fellow students …. There were students of all ages, of all different socio-economic backgrounds and races. It was shocking to me how naïve I was about so many things here in Northwest Indiana. I think sometimes we live in sheltered silos … When you are exposed to new things, not only in the classroom curriculum but the different experiences and the people you meet, it is eye opening.”

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