May 18, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – Eloise Schleck is a living testament to the axiom that perseverance pays off.

The 85-year-old Marion woman completed her Associate’s degree in general studies from John A. Logan College this semester and attended the graduation ceremony Friday, where she received a standing ovation for her accomplishment.

Born Oct. 13, 1930 in Evanston, Schleck began her college career in 1950 at Blue Mountain College in northeastern Mississippi, but soon stepped away from academics to help raise four children.

Decades later, after having moved to Southern Illinois, she met John A. Logan College employee, Christy McBride, at a defensive shooting class offered off campus through Continuing Education.

“It was in the late 1990s when we first met,” said McBride, who is now Director of Testing Services at the college. “We shared several conversations and I invited her to come see me to discuss taking classes at Logan. She started in 2002 and I have been her advisor ever since. Eloise would usually take one-to-two courses a year until she finally met the requirement for graduation this year. I was so glad to hear that she wanted to participate in the commencement ceremony.”

Schleck worked for U.S. Steel in Chicago before she got married and started a family. She also worked 21 years with the Container Corporation in Carol Stream, Illinois, where she worked nights. Schleck also tutored English students in the JALC Literacy Program.

She and her late husband moved to Marion about 30 years ago to be close to their daughter, Carol, and family.

McBride said Schleck has not let anything prevent her from achieving her academic goal. She has remained persistent in her efforts.

“Eloise has such a positive attitude,” she said. “If she didn’t succeed the first time, she would say, ‘I’ll just take it (class) again.’ Her perseverance has been an inspiration to me, as well as others at the college.”

Schleck, who credits conversations with McBride and her parents for instilling the drive in her to pursue a college education, said there was not one aspect of her college experience at Logan that she would put above another.

“I can’t pinpoint one thing. I have loved it all,” she said. “I have enjoyed all my teachers here. As far as I’m concerned, everything about Logan has been great.”

Schleck said she never thought of herself as a role model for other students.

“I never thought about anything like that,” she said. “If I taught anyone anything, it was the importance of education in your life. It’s an exciting world today and it helps to understand what is going on around you.”

Schleck said it warmed her heart to see, hear, and feel the cheers as she accepted her degree at graduation.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that. It made me so proud to have so many of my family members here with me, and I know my parents would have been proud of me, too.”

Schleck hasn’t given up on the idea of furthering her education. Ideally, she said, she would complete her four-year degree at Blue Mountain College (her sentimental choice) by taking some online courses.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find that my Associate’s degree here at Logan was just a stepping stone to my four-year degree,” she said.

Count McBride as one friend who will be pulling for Schleck to accomplish that goal if she chooses to attempt it.

“I think it’s awesome that she continues this journey,” McBride said. “I know I will be cheering for her.”