When people turn 50, they tend to celebrate in big ways – maybe a vacation, a new car long-desired purchase or a big party to celebrate their milestone. Elaine Pleet celebrated by gaining her certification as a massage therapist.
After earning a bachelor's degree in fine arts and working in office settings during much of her career, she desired a change. But, she quickly learned that she could not make a good living from massage therapy alone. "When I became certified, I had a feeling that this was not the final goal for me, but it was more the doorway to lead to something else," said the mother of three girls.
That "something else" turned out to be a Registered Nursing degree at RACC. She is currently completing her prerequisites and will start the RN program this fall.
"I didn't realize what an impression it would make on my daughter's friends," she said. "They think it's so neat that I'm going back to school. I want to be a role model by showing that you're never too old to reinvent yourself."
Elaine's return to college has helped her make new connections with her daughters through learning. Her oldest daughter is attending Syracuse University majoring in sociology as Elaine just finished a great sociology class of her own.
"She called one day when I was at the mall working on a project for sociology and I told her that she wouldn't believe what I was doing," said Elaine. "She really liked that someone understood her world and I had someone to talk to about what I was working on."
For her middle daughter at the University of Pittsburgh and her youngest a senior at Wyomissing High School, the connection came on the science end. Her youngest daughter even had the same biology textbook that Elaine used for class. "Being able to connect with them as we were all learning was a total surprise and I didn't expect that," Elaine said.
She also didn't expect to be making friends with classmates who are her kids' ages or to have so much fun coming back to college. "This was a whole new territory for me, and I was so impressed with not just the level of education, but the students and the rigorousness of the program," she said.
Despite the fact that she will be 55 when she completes the RN program in two years, Elaine has a positive outlook and said, "I feel confident and good about things. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing for myself."
While she's not quite sure where her degree at RACC will lead her, Elaine said she would like to practice holistic nursing, integrating the Eastern and Western approaches to medicine.