To Be Continued,
To Be Completed
Michael VanDerAa doesn't
mind being the oldest student in his classes. After an eleven-year hiatus
from Trinity, he decided to finish the five courses needed to complete
his art degree.
"I was nervous about the
age difference at first, but everyone treats me like any other student.
No one views me as the old guy, which made the transition easier, and that
helps me feel very comfortable on campus."
His decision to return to
college was "pretty spontaneous and didn't require a lot of consideration."
VanDerAa credits his involvement on the facility design and management
team at Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Illinois, where
he and his family are members, as a primary motivation to resume his studies.
"Our church is planning to
build a new campus, and working on that project has been a huge commitment
for me. My faith has been strengthened greatly through my contribution
to this initiative, and that opportunity helped convince me that I could
handle going back to school at this time.
"My education was something
that I left open, and I wanted to bring closure to it," he admits. "There
is a sense of accomplishment that will come with getting my degree. It
would be a shame for me to have gotten so close and not complete the deal,
and I know that it will bring honor to God."
When he left Trinity, VanDerAa
started Outsource Alliance, a transportation consulting firm. He later
worked at ShuttlePort, a division of VanDerAa Mobility Group owned by his
uncle and father. In 1999, he purchased Royal American Charter Lines from
them, which provides bus and motor coach transportation for group travel,
including Trinity's athletics teams.
His wife, Kelly ex '93, was
surprised by his decision to go back to college but supported him wholeheartedly.
In addition to fulfilling a personal mission, VanDerAa wanted to set an
example for his young sons, Kees and Gage, to encourage them to finish
what they start. In the process, he has discovered his schoolwork has greater
application than he expected.
"The coursework is much more
relevant now than it was the first time around," said VanDerAa, a resident
of Westmont, Illinois. "I have lived through some experiences that I can
relate to what we discuss in class, and there are also some practical applications
at home. For example, when my sons get sick, I get a real-life lesson on
the immune system that amplifies what I learn in biology class. That makes
the schoolwork more enjoyable."
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