They say age is just a number. For Judith Ann Eschmann, a student at St. Louis Community College – Meramec, it was.
Eschmann was set to graduate from STLCC with an associate degree this spring. Yet, in December 2017, she passed away after a tragic incident. At the age of 73, she was a positive example to her peers and professors that it’s never too late to go back to school.
“She loved being back in school and talking with the other students,” said Eschmann’s daughter, Michelle Scheipeter.
Eschmann, who worked at McDonnell Aircraft until her marriage in 1965, was a stay-at-home mom to her three children – Michelle, Julianna and Tim. She returned to work in 1985. From then until her retirement in 2015, she worked at different companies. But it was her work after retirement, when she volunteered as a hospice worker for Mercy Hospital, that was most rewarding.
“During her time [at Mercy Hospital] she met a patient who was an educator who engaged her in long conversations about education,” said Scheipeter. “The patient made her promise to return to college and complete her degree.”
She began taking courses at community college in 1984. She took classes here and there over the years until she began the final two courses for her degree last fall.
“She was on campus almost daily, working with a small group to ensure she understood the material and to talk to professors,” said Scheipeter.
John Macke is one such professor.
“Judith was an excellent student in my geology class,” said Macke. “She brought experiences from her travels and added to the experience of the other students. She had the highest grade in the class.”
Eschmann fulfilled her promise and will receive a degree during graduation on Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m. at Chaifetz Arena. Her family will accept the degree in her honor.
And it is definitely an honor for Scheipeter. “She taught us to stand in our truth, be proud of who we are, help others and be grateful. Over 600 people, including her classmates and professor, attended her wake. She is greatly missed by countless people.”
“Her professor shared that she had the highest grade on the final,” said Scheipeter. “She would’ve been so proud.”