Judi Koubsky gives all the credit for her passion for learning to a kindergarten teacher years ago who told her she was smart and would be a wonderful student. But even as little Judi took her teacher’s words to heart, she had no idea that her life’s path would eventually lead her to become such a passionate learner again later in life.
After marrying her high school sweetheart at age nineteen, Judi loyally supported her husband, Paul, who was attending college to become a teacher. Five years later, she was a busy mother to three children who worked a variety of jobs outside the home until she finally landed at Coopers & Lybrand, an international accounting firm with an office in Omaha, Nebraska. As she moved up within the ranks as an executive assistant to the partners and finally to support staff supervisor, Judi’s appetite for learning never disappeared. After passing her Certified Professional Secretary’s test in 1979, Judi decided to take other courses to expand her horizons. As the years passed and her children became adults, Judi enrolled in community college and completed several business courses. But when her husband, Paul, died after forty years of marriage and she eventually retired, Judi’s life took a new turn.
When a friend set her up with Denny, a former classmate at South High School, Judi soon realized she had been blessed again with a wonderful man. In 2005, they married and celebrated their second chance at happiness. As they traveled the world together and enjoyed health, Judi continued her life of serving others. But in 2016 when she advised her two granddaughters to continue attending college without taking a break, Judi had to answer a difficult question posed to her by one of her granddaughters. “But you didn’t finish college did you, grandma?” Judi states, “Although I had to answer ‘no’ because I couldn’t afford it, the question still weighed on my mind as I thought about why I hadn’t yet obtained my degree.” Returning to college had always been her goal, but life, motherhood, travels, and her volunteer work had taken precedence. Judi wouldn’t have changed her past for anything, but now, something great was stirring inside her.
Now motivated to make her long-held dream finally come true, Judi resigned from all her charitable work and made an appointment with an advisor at the University of Nebraska Omaha to learn the next steps. Because she now had the money to fund school, Judi knew there was nothing holding her back from becoming a student again at age seventy-three. After she told her husband, children, grandchildren, and friends the news she was returning to college, none of them acted like she was crazy. “They all encouraged me to go for it,” says Judi. As her daughter, Jill, noted in a social media post, “We are all bursting with pride!”
Two years later, Judi has completed 106 credit hours, leaving just 14 hours until she earns a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies. She adds, “Campus classes are my favorite because of the fun interaction with the other students. I love to hear their stories and what they are going to do with their lives. I love that I am old enough to be their grandmother but they are comfortable including me in their groups.” But the bottom line is that Judi loves learning new thoughts and concepts that are so unlike her own life experiences.
A typical day for Judi is busy. In addition to reading, preparing her assignments, and studying for tests, Judi also serves as a Eucharistic minister in her church, a bereavement companion for those who have lost family members, and as a supportive grandmother to her nine grandchildren who are involved in many activities.
Judi’s favorite part about her new chapter in life is that she has gained self-confidence and is growing every day in knowledge and not just vegetating. She offers great advice for those who want to pursue their passion in life, no matter what their age. “If you know there is something you are very passionate about, don’t let anything stop you from your goal. Even small steps will eventually have you at the finish line.”
Catherine Pulsifer once said, “Life isn’t about your age. Life is about living.” As a current college student at age seventy-five, Judi is a shining example to all the youth around her that it is never too late to be everything you dream you can be.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.