Sharyn Murphy

Alumni Spotlight: Retired respiratory therapist graduates with bachelor’s degree after 45 years

After retirement Sharyn Murphy wanted to do more with her life. What started as an inquiry about Spanish classes at IUPUI’s Center for Adult and Lifelong Learning (CALL) led her to begin the journey of her lifelong dream of attaining a Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree from the IU School of Liberal Arts. 

Murphy’s educational journal is similar to many of the stories shared by returning adult learners in the General Studies Program.

Following high school, forty-five years ago, Murphy began undergraduate classes in Indianapolis at what was then known as the IU Extension, the early precursor of what is now IUPUI, but by her own evaluation, "it wasn’t the right time."

And so time passed. Life went on into different directions and for almost two decades, the dream of having a bachelor’s degree lingered. Murphy did, however, complete an Associate of Science degree in Respiratory Therapy from the School of Allied Health Sciences at IUPUI, leading to a full-time career as a respiratory therapist.

Eventually, Murphy’s longing to do more with her life despite her retirement and the challenges of a chronic illness inspired her to recommit to getting her bachelor’s degree.

That dream became a reality in May, 2013, when Murphy graduated from IUPUI with a BGS degree and a new sense of self-fulfillment and confidence, a new job and a sense of "just getting started." Armed with her degree, she feels prepared for her new job at a leading educational agency that delivers cutting edge solutions improving academic performance and results for grades pre-K through 12, higher education and adaptive services.

Completing her BGS degree has also inspired her to consider the possibility of a graduate education bringing together her career in the medical field, her bachelor’s coursework in the behavioral sciences and her personal experience with chronic illness into a master’s degree in Medical Humanities.

Her message to other would-be graduates who are unsure of their ability to succeed is just do it. Don’t think of all the possible reasons not to. As an older adult student Murphy found her maturity to be an asset. She enjoyed classes and learning more than she had before, as evidenced by her high academic performance. In addition, she was pleasantly surprised to find online classes, supportive and flexible academic advising geared to adult students, and access to information about financial aid and other helpful resources. 

Sharyn Murphy exemplifies a lifelong learner. Her story reveals the diverse range of students served at IUPUI and should serve as an inspiration not only current non-traditional students  working to complete their degrees, but also the over 200,000 "stopped out" students in Central Indiana who have some college credit but no degree and dream of returning to school. 

For more information on the Center for Adult and Lifelong Learning (CALL) and the General Studies degree program visit