It's never too late to learn
Counseling leads social worker to plant biology
Mark Goodwin, 43, wasn't sure what he wanted to do in 1996, but after seven years as a social worker in a Louisville psychiatric hospital, he knew what he didn't want to do.
Goodwin dealt with life and death issues on a regular basis: abuse, suicide attempts, alcoholism and drug abuse. Life's seamier side was served up in daily doses at Charter Hospital.
“Believe me, that is not a job you ever retire from, it's just too stressful,” Goodwin says.
“People burn out long before they ever get close to retirement age. And I was one of them.”
So he got some counseling of his own — career counseling.
Six months of testing and interviewing revealed that Goodwin was more interested in teaching than psychiatric social work.
Now Goodwin, who has three degrees (BA '81 Northwest Missouri State University, Master of Divinity, 1985, Midwestern Seminary, and BS '98 University of Louisville), is working on his PhD in horticulture and landscape architecture at Purdue.
“I think I'm a better student now than when I was younger,” Goodwin says. “The motivation now is certainly different. I know what will happen if I don't succeed: I'll have to go back to doing something I don't enjoy nearly as much as what I'm doing now.”
Goodwin is researching drought resistance in plants as part of Purdue's interdisciplinary studies program.
“I'm amazed I'm here, because this seems like such a perfect fit for what I want to do, which is be a teacher at the college level,” Goodwin says. “I can get a PhD in plant biology and teach biology or horticulture at just about any school in the United States.”
He's able to take time to earn his doctorate thanks in no small part to a supportive and financially stable wife.
“You absolutely have to have a supportive family,” Goodwin says, “or it just won't work. My pay was cut in half when I came here.”
As a microbiologist at Home Hospital in Lafayette, Goodwin's wife, Kathy Ramser, is the primary breadwinner of the family. And her science background comes in handy in other areas, too.
“Not only does she help me with some of the science, but the other day she came in and helped me plant all my Arabidopsis plants in the green-house, too,” Goodwin says.
And when students with dreams as diverse as their backgrounds — students like Gaston, Morris and Goodwin — choose to invest in their future through education, perhaps the university gains as much as the individual.
“It must be incredibly stimulating,” Whittaker says, “to come to this environment with experiences to share and with a mission to accomplish.”
At any age.
Contact Goodwin at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Credits||© 2003 Purdue University School of Agriculture|