With the exception of two, Pat McMurray has taken every single class in the Hospitality Program at Ivy Tech Indianapolis. 

And those last two? She’s enrolled and well on her way to completing during the 2023-24 term. 

“And I can say I’ve enjoyed every single one of them,” McMurray said

For the last four years, McMurray, 80, has taken six credit hours a term at Ivy Tech Indianapolis. Focusing mainly on disciplines that involve creating and using her hands, McMurray has taken classes in the culinary arts, machine tool technology, and welding. 

“I like being in school. I like the atmosphere. I like the culture. I like that I can do mental push-ups,” McMurray said. 

And the best part is that McMurray has taken all these classes tuition-free through Ivy Tech’s Senior Scholars program. As a Senior Scholar, Hoosiers ages 60 and older are able to take credit courses at Ivy Tech for free.

McMurray first found out about Ivy Tech’s Senior Scholars program in 2019 during a Guild of Weavers and Spinners meeting. She was excited and eager to jump at the opportunity.

“I almost broke my neck trying to get over here!” McMurray said, laughing. 

Since McMurray is enrolled in Ivy Tech’s Senior Scholars program, she saves $1,020.42 a term. 

The last time McMurray was enrolled in school was in 2008 for her Ph.D. As someone with an All But Dissertation (ABD) Degree Status, she looked forward to the technical classes that required little to no writing. 

“The Ph.D. program was online, and really, everything revolved around writing. And I had had it up to my elbows in writing; I was just so sick of it,” McMurray said. 

McMurray was most excited about the campus’ culinary school. 

“I like to cook, but my children are all gone, and there's nobody in the house but me and my cats,” McMurray said, chuckling. “So, taking the cooking classes here gave me the opportunity to cook again.”

McMurray has since achieved a culinarian certificate and a certificate in culinary and baking. Now, she’s trying out new creative avenues, such as machine tool technology and welding, her favorite of the two. 

“Machine tool technology showed me my capabilities and my limitations. Professor Charlie Graphman is a wonderful teacher, and I thoroughly enjoyed his company,” McMurray said. “But, I am not a person that likes to be held to precision. And the fact that I required assistance when handling the machines, I just couldn’t see myself keeping up with the discipline.”

Welding, on the other hand, is a fabrication process that excites McMurray. It also helps that she can handle and see herself sustaining it. 

“I really enjoy welding and putting things together. I didn't feel like I was being held to such a strict standard, like in machining. While I understand why you have to have precision in machining, I just couldn’t see myself bringing any of that material home,” McMurray said. “With cooking, I can go home and make a meal myself. With welding, I can picture myself getting the equipment for welding and building these beautiful statues for my yard!” She said, smiling. 

McMurray doesn’t plan to stop taking classes at Ivy Tech Indianapolis and will continue “seeing what’s out there.”

And although McMurray will not offer others advice – as she believes “that’s an exercise in futility” – she can speak to her experience at Ivy Tech Indianapolis the last four years. 

“My experiences have been wonderful. I have enjoyed them. The teachers have been more than friendly. They have been very professional. They know their stuff, and most have had experience in their fields, so they know what's required. And they make themselves available if you need to chat or anything,” McMurray said. “I don't think one could ask for more in this environment.”

To learn more about the Ivy Tech Senior Scholar program, visit this page at ivytech.edu. Learn more about our programs for hospitality, machine tool technology, and welding by visiting ivytech.edu

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About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.