It's not easy at age 55 to go back to school and begin working toward a college degree. It's doubly hard if you have dyslexia, which impairs your ability to read, and your grades in high school were poor. It makes you wonder if you've got what it takes to compete at college.
That was the situation Donna Bozarth, wife of International Tire and Rubber As-sociation Executive Director Marvin Bozarth, faced as she decided about a year ago to return to the classroom and seek an associate degree in travel and tourism from Sullivan College in Louisville, Ky.
Two quarters later, she's on the Dean's List and thinking about pursuing a bachelor's degree and becoming a teacher, once she finishes her associate degree.
``I'm hanging in there,'' she said about her college courses. ``I make A's and it's great.''
Mrs. Bozarth told me about what college has meant to her and how it has raised her self-esteem during the recent ITRA World Tire Conference in Louisville.
High school, she said, wasn't easy, and she had trouble paying attention in class. Her grades were C's and D's, and she had no desire to go to college. ``I don't remember ever making a B,'' she told me.
``I felt dumb all my life,'' she said.
She attributes this to her dyslexia, which even affected her ability to remember right from left.
``Left and right are still hard for me, and learning to tell time was terrible,'' she said.
You'd never guess in meeting her that Mrs. Bozarth had doubts about herself. She's an avid reader of fiction and mysteries and enjoys books on such subjects as antiques and decorating. At age 42 she learned to paint with oils.
She's fun to talk with, has an infectious smile, and you sense immediately she's a nice person—someone you'd like to know.
Inside, however, she lacked faith in her ability to learn. But not any longer.
College has done miracles for her self-confidence, her husband told me. ``She feels very good about herself,'' Mr. Bozarth said.
It was after her three children had grown up that Mrs. Bozarth began thinking about going to college. ``I had a lot of time on my hands,'' she explained. ``I needed a life.''
Inspired by ITRA's Bunny McDermott, a mother of three who persevered for 13 years to earn her bachelor's degree, Mrs. Bozarth decided to take the risk and enroll in college.
``She's my role model,'' Mrs. Bozarth said of Ms. McDermott. ``She encourages me all the time. She's almost as excited as I am.''
Mrs. Bozarth also has gotten lots of support from ITRA. ``The board members and tire dealers that have heard about me going to school are all very proud of me,'' she said.
Her husband is proud of her as well. ``I think it's the greatest thing in the world,'' he said.
Besides the accomplishment of receiving her college degree, Mrs. Bozarth has another reason for wanting to achieve her college diploma—to show her children, none of whom finished college, that it can be done. ``I'm gonna show these kids they can do it,'' she said.
I've no doubt that she will.
Mr. Zielasko is editor and associate publisher of Tire Business.