‘It’s never to late to learn something new’

Grandmother, 72, completes her GED

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Anne Blankenship Barb Mertz, right, poses with instructor Marna Seiser at a celebration last week at Iowa Central Community College, Webster City campus. Mertz, 72, recently completed her GED.

Barb Mertz achieved a milestone last week. At age 72, she earned her General Equivalency Diploma or GED at Iowa Central Community College’s Webster City Campus.

She celebrated the achievement at a gathering held at the college on Thursday.

During her career, she worked as a dog groomer, and for 25 years was employed at the Newton Drive-In theater. Not one to sit around, Mertz said after her retirement, she needed to set some goals and develop a bucket list. At the top of that list was getting her high school diploma.

“My kids are all college graduates, but I haven’t been to school since 1962,” she said. She took the classes over several semesters.

“I’ve absolutely loved it. The teachers are marvelous. Algebra and some of the other stuff I haven’t done for years and years,” she said, “but I got through it.”

She said it was difficult at first to get into the swing of classes and studying again. And working on computers posed a bit of a challenge.

“But then once I started studying, it all started to come back,” she said. “And when you get something right, it’s fun and you want to keep on going to the next challenge.”

Despite the age difference, Mertz said her fellow GED students were wonderful.

“I was scared to death to walk into the classroom with a bunch of teenagers,” she said. “But they were very protective of me and very respectful.”

The grandmother of two was popular with her fellow students since she often treated them to homemade cookies, bars and other goodies.

Next, she plans to volunteer to help other students working toward their GEDs.

“The teachers are so busy. I can help with different things. I think I’ll do that,” she said.

She added that she would be happy to share her experiences with other seniors who might be thinking about finishing their high school education.

“It’s so worth it,” she said. “Just come talk to me about it.”

She’s also thinking about taking a computer class and perhaps continuing on with her education.

“You know it’s never too late to learn something new,” she said. “You can always earn a degree if you set your mind to it.

Colette Bertran, director of the Iowa Central Community College Webster City Campus attended the gathering for Mertz last week.

“We’re so proud of what she’s accomplished,” she said. “I think we may have to slip her the course catalog for next semester.”