My Big, Scary Pivot

Black Girl and Catherine

After sharing my life with sheep, goats, and llamas for 25 years, it’s been hard to find anything to write about that’s as challenging as farming. I’d always wanted to go back to school, but we can’t afford the $1400/credit graduate school tuition.

But then I learned that to encourage lifelong learning, MN residents who are 62+ may take classes at the U of MN for $10/credit.

What? $10/credit? That’s $30 for a 3 credit course! I feel guilty: Between 1970 and 2018, tuition has risen 2700%, and puts a terrible burden on young adults… But the guilt isn’t going to stop me from taking advantage of this program.

But what to study? Something new. Something relevant. Then I found it: the Masters of Professional Studies in Civic Engagement. Civics!—voting, volunteering, understanding government, working together to improve communities, strengthening democracy!  Many of the classes are online; only a handful require that I drive to Minneapolis to attend class in-person.

I applied. I was accepted. I took my first class (Voting Participation and Outreach), got an -A. I’m taking two classes this summer, and am designing my own degree program. The coursework isn’t hard; it’s figuring out how to use all the technology that’s driving me crazy. 🙂

What will I do with a MPS in Civic Engagement? Acck! I don’t know! I’m trusting that the coursework will take me in a direction I can’t yet see.

Is it scary to start back to school the same month you become eligible for Medicare?

Oh, yeah.

But if I can handle sheep and goats and steers and ducks, I’m hoping I can handle a few classes… We’ll see… 🙂

14 thoughts on “My Big, Scary Pivot”

  1. Good for you! I have loved reading your books and am looking forward to more. This new adventure sounds like opening up to wonderful new opportunities – maybe new stories.

  2. WooHoo!!! I love to learn. I wish I could be your tech support, but being so far away would make it hard. But shoot me a question if you have one and I’ll see what I can do.

  3. That is just awesome…you can do anything you put your mind to…I can sense another book out of this adventure

  4. Yea Catherine! So glad you found that program and I’m sure it will lead to something wonderful for you. My grandmother went to college for four years to get a degree in psychology after she retired at age 65 (this would have been about 1974). She didn’t to anything with the degree but she enjoyed the heck out of the classes and being around “young people” as she called her classmates. I hope this feeds your soul as much as hers was fed.

  5. I can’t imagine anything wrong with studying “Civil Engagement.” And I’m delighted you found out that you were eligible for this at a reasonable rate. May you learn, and learn, and learn.

  6. Awesome. Learning at any age is wonderful but plotting a truly different course as one gets older is magic in itself. Enjoy the journey.

  7. Good in you Catherine! Back to pick a few more raspberries huh?
    I’ve been trying to get more involved in my local political scene. Maybe you can give me some suggestions.


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The Big Pivot

About Me

After twenty-five years on the farm, I’m adjusting to the adventures of city life. Part of that adjustment is figuring out what I want to write about now, since sheep are no longer part of my daily life. I’m challenging myself creatively by painting with pastels and playing the ukelele as I seek my new writing path.

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Minnesota State Arts Board grant

Catherine Friend is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.