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Global University
Helen Carpenelli
Education 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.

Carpenelli hasn’t 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 the Lord.”

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.

Although she’s 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.

“I don’t 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.

“It isn’t 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.”

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