Family’s first to graduate

At 50, Hammond resident/Chicago native 1st in her family to graduate

Sue Goodwin, 50, is on schedule to be the first person in her family to earn a university baccalaureate degree.

Unconventional Education

Receiving her diploma during Purdue University Calumet Commencement Exercises Tuesday (12/18—1:30 p.m.) at the Radisson Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville will be her latest achievement of a long and unconventional education.

The Chicago native attended the city’s Carver Area High School, but dropped out. While working and raising her children, however, she was persuaded by her mother to resume her education and go to college.

“My mom only went to school through the eighth grade,” Goodwin said. “I talked to her, and she said, ‘I want you to go to school.’”

Enrolled in 2006

Goodwin obtained an associate degree in business administration from nearby South Suburban (Ill.) College in 2005. She enrolled at Purdue Calumet in 2006 to pursue a baccalaureate in organizational communication.

The demands of maintaining a full time job as a bank administrative assistant challenged her bachelor’s degree pursuit. But by combining evening, weekend and online classes as a part-time student with various personal sacrifices, she has succeeded.

“It could be very rough,” she said. “I had to give up all forms of entertainment. I couldn’t take any overtime at work, and there were times when I had to force myself to do homework. But I’m a disciplined person, period. I talked to my [bank supervisor] and my family, and I made it known that this is what I was going to do.”

Family Support

Goodwin’s family supported her through it all.

“There were times I felt she was taking on too much,” her brother, Joey Sherman, said, “[but] she didn’t let anyone come in between [her and] what she set out to do,”

Sue Goodwin

Sue Goodwin

In addition to family support, she said she benefitted academically from her work experience, which related to some of her course work.

“What I did in the classroom I was already doing at the bank,” Goodwin said.


Her persistence also rubbed off on classmates, according to one her instructors, Professor of Communication Theresa Carilli.

“[She] is an engaged learner who adds so much to the classroom,” Carilli said. “The students see her as a leader and role model.”

So does her brother, Charles Jones, Jr., who credits his sister’s success for motivating him to pursue post-secondary education in in preparation for becoming an ordained minister.

“If it weren’t for Susie, I would have never thought about going after my dream of becoming a pastor,” Jones, 64, said.  “If she can do it, so can I.”

Goodwin, meanwhile, plans to continue her study of organizational communication at the master’s degree level.