Mature students welcome at Columbia State

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Charles Adams
Glenn Butler

"I wish I'd started as soon as I retired!" said 53-year-old Charles Adams.

He was referring to his studies at Columbia State Community College. Adams retired five years ago after 31 years in the military. He was only 48 years old and looked forward to many years of hunting, fishing, playing golf, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.

The reality was that he missed the sense of accomplishment he used to get from a job well done. Adams did a little work as a substitute teacher, but finally decided to go back to school and become a respiratory therapist.

What he feared most was just beginning the process of getting enrolled. Finally he marched himself through the front door at Columbia State's Lewisburg campus and Tim at the front desk helped him take the first steps. Right away Adams had his first experience with Columbia State's staff.

"I haven't met anybody at Columbia State who won't take the time to make sure you understand completely," said Adams.

The Lewisburg native started basic training in the Army just 12 days after graduating from high school. "I would never have done this at 17 years old -- all I thought about in those days was girls and getting out of school," admits Adams.

He shares some classes with Glenn Butler, 56, who also hopes to become a respiratory therapist or maybe a veterinary technician. Butler was in the military for three years and served in Vietnam, but it was later that he got a life-threatening head injury. This accident slowed him down and then the demons of his war years, in the form of post traumatic stress disorder, caught up with him.

Butler had years of therapy and rehab, but he finally realized that it was time to get out of the house and be around people again. At last he was ready to fulfill a promise to his grandmother that he would go back to school. "I didn't realize it would require so much," Butler admits, adding, "I'm fearful of technology."

"Anything I can do to help my community -- I want to do it. I always let people know I'm back in school," he said.

Pick up a copy of today's edition of the Marshall County Tribune, Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 for entire coverage.