When Carol-Ann Marbach retired from Eli Lilly in 2012, she did what most retirees do – relax. But, it didn't take long before she began picking up different part-time jobs, like substitute teaching and ministry assistant work.
Then, Marbach started thinking about something else. Something she always wanted to do.
"I just have always wanted to be in social services," Marbach said. "I wanted to do something that I wanted to enjoy."
Marbach already had a bachelor's degree and set sights on getting a Master of Social Work (MSW). Initially, her goal was to earn a technical certificate at Ivy Tech Community College, and then she would move on to graduate school for her MSW.
Unfortunately, Marbach had to pivot when one of her children became seriously ill.
"I knew I couldn't be available for my kid and try to be in master studies. So I decided to stay at Ivy Tech and get my associate degree while I was there," Marbach said.
While taking classes for an associate degree in human services, Marbach learned from peers and faculty members that she could do the kind of social work she wanted with a bachelor's degree in social work and did not need to get an MSW to be in the field.
"I'm a recovering addict. I've been clean for 35 years," Marbach said. "And it turns out that Ivy Tech also has a program in addiction studies. And with the technical certificate, I'll be able to get in and work with addicts."
Marbach only took online classes while studying at Ivy Tech for the last three years. This was due to an assortment of reasons, mainly because of her child's illness, partially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in small part because of her age and not wanting to feel uncomfortable in class.
So when she entered her final year, during the 2022-23 academic year, and had to complete two internships before graduating with her AAS in human services, Marbach grew weary about needing to be in an office setting again. She was placed in the IvyCARES office at Ivy Tech Indianapolis and was nervous about coming to campus.
As soon as she stepped foot on campus and into the IvyCARES office, however, Marbach says all her worries disappeared.
"I really fell in love with the academic community. I fell in love with the whole vibe at Ivy Tech. I was so impressed with what they do for the students and how they treat the students," Marbach said. "I never got a one-word answer from anybody in that school."
Marbach says it was funny how many potential students would come into the IvyCARES office and voice their fears about attending college at "what they considered an older age."
"They would say, 'I'm the only one in my class that's my age.' And I'd say, 'Excuse me. I'm 73 years old, and I'm here. If I can do it, you can do it!' And they told me they were inspired. And that's phenomenal," Marbach said.
"I think the only one who doesn't realize I'm 73 is me," she laughed.
Marbach graduated in May with her Associate of Applied Sciences (AAS) in Human Services but plans to return in the fall to get her addictions certification to start working in the field while pursuing her bachelor's degree.
"At my age, I would rather get out there and do something workwise, in the field, than continue to sit and get more education and have to wait a couple more years," Marbach said.
The 73-year-old says her time at Ivy Tech Indianapolis was simply invigorating.
"I always felt up when I came into the building. Even if I wasn't. I mean, the weather could have been horrible, and I'd walk in that building, and it's like, 'yeah, let's go!'" Marbach said.
Marbach is currently completing an intensive summer internship at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, a social services organization on the southwest side of Indianapolis. At the same time, she instructs a diabetes prevention class for people who are considered pre-diabetic at her local YMCA.
Marbach also continues going to AA meetings and is a sponsor for others. "I am an active participant in my own recovery," she says.
Marbach has already been accepted into four undergraduate programs for social work and hopes to work as a counselor, to the extent of her licensure, for an in-patient or outpatient recovery center. Marbach added that achieving an MSW is still in the cards for her future.
"I'm not going to stop."
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.