At 63, Colleen Geier has earned a long list of degrees. That does not mean the Goshen College professor is done learning.Geier, director of the sign language interpreting program and a professor in the department, is currently taking classes at both Goshen College and Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart.
The professor has an associate degree in liberal arts, bachelor’s degrees in American history and elementary education ‒ “history because I love it, education to get a job!” ‒ a MS in elementary education with concentrations in special education and deaf education and a PhD in adult education.
Now, Geier is working on another degree ‒ a bachelor’s in Bible and religion from Goshen College. Geier is completing the degree through both Goshen College and AMBS courses.
“Taking classes is one of the benefits of teaching college but I have never had the time to take classes at any of the colleges where I’ve taught,” she said. “With COVID-19, I decided to make time because I love to learn.”
Geier has always found education to be fun.
“My family always said I would be a permanent student,” she said.
Geier says that her friends often ask her if she is really “taking tests and writing papers for fun.”
“It’s fun for me!” Geier said.
Keith Graber Miller, professor of Bible, religion and philosophy at Goshen College, has taught two of Geier’s classes so far.
“It’s an utter delight to have Colleen in class,” Miller said. “I was nervous about having a faculty colleague in one of my classes for the full term. But Colleen is a wonderfully earnest, energized student, eager to challenge herself to develop her own theological understandings and her ability to serve in various ministries.”
“She’s like a sponge,” Graber Miller went on, “open to learning and unafraid of the sorts of theological, ethical and other explorations we do in Bible and religion.”
Rebecca Slough, professor emerita of worship and the arts at AMBS, taught Geier’s Christian Leadership course at the seminary.
“She developed a more nuanced understanding of servant leadership, which is a high value at Goshen, after exploring some of the shadow side of this approach,” Slough said.
Slough added that Geier excelled and grew beyond her comfort zone with in-class activities “that took her out of her head and into her body-spirit.”
“I am grateful for the maturity, wisdom and openness of spirit that Colleen brought to our learning community,” Slough said.
Although Geier is passionate about learning and gaining more knowledge, she admits that it is not always easy.
“It [has been] good to get the viewpoint of a student,” she said. “I hear my students complaining about things, and … I’m having the same problems they’re having, finding time, getting the homework in.”
Because Geier does not need to take core classes, she is currently taking just one class a semester.
“Even just to finish the major is going to take quite a while,” she said.
But, she said, once she’s done with seminary, she may start a new program.
“I [may] need another degree,” she said. “By the time I do that, I’ll be so old, nobody’s going to care how many degrees I have.”