is not age bound
Helen Carpenelli believes
learning is a lifelong process. That’s why Carpenelli, at
77, is taking classes from Global University, the distance-education
provider based in Springfield, Mo., that trains people in more than
160 countries. Carpenelli,
a Pennsylvania coal miner’s daughter, didn’t obtain
her general equivalency diploma until age 67.
By then she already had
been through the school of hard knocks. She says her family ostracized
her when she became a Christian at age 30. She had to quit work
for six months at age 40 because of incurable rheumatoid arthritis
in her spine — until being healed instantly at an Assemblies
of God service. Her oldest son, Savine, died 10 years ago of a virus
on a business trip. A year and a half ago she had open-heart surgery.
let anything dissuade her from learning — or ministering to
those around her in the rural town of Scenery Hill, Pa.
Since 1995, she has been
working on a bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis in counseling.
She takes an average of three correspondence classes a year by mail.
Her pastor, Michael T. Goodling of Christian Assembly of God in
Bentleyville, Pa., serves as her proctor.
“I love to learn,”
says Carpenelli, who has owned her own hair salon for more than
40 years. Although semiretired, Carpenelli continues to serve about
five elderly clients a week in her home.
In the early days of
her hairdressing career a customer witnessed to Carpenelli. “I
got under conviction,” Carpenelli recalls. “Then I met
Her decision prompted
her three sisters and four brothers to turn their backs on her.
Yet, eventually, all seven converted after she persistently explained
the gospel to them. Carpenelli’s husband, Carmine, a retired
steel mill electrician who is now 82, became a Christian two years
after she did. Their three children, who all graduated from college,
committed their lives to Christ at an early age.
been talking and listening to customers for more than four decades,
Carpenelli thought some counseling classes would help her communicate
better. She learned about Global from a flier on a bulletin board
at church. Carpenelli, who taught weekly children’s evangelism
classes for 19 years, also wanted to be more effective in building
up her seven grandchildren.
Even though she has to
finish another 50 credits before graduating, Carpenelli is content
to enjoy herself along the way.
know when I’ll get my degree,” she says. “Most
people don’t do it this way. But the Lord has encouraged me.
I’ve learned so much.” She especially enjoys Bible courses.
Writing counseling assignments has been the most difficult, but
she says they are beneficial.
easy for someone my age to write compositions, but it’s something
I’ve learned to do,” she says. “My motivation
is to encourage and help those around me.”