Saint Martin’s senior Pam Sowers featured on Radio France International

February 18, 2011

LACEY, WASHINGTON — Saint Martin’s University senior Pam Sowers recently was interviewed by Susan Owensby on a Radio France International segment about life’s proudest moments. Sowers spoke about how returning to college after 40 years has transformed her life.

Calling her decision the best she ever made, Sowers said she feels like she is “wide awake and full of ideas” for the first time in years. Her initial fears about fitting in and keeping up with younger students have been replaced with understanding of how her career, life experience and mature perspective add to the milieu of the educational experience at Saint Martin’s. She also spoke of the support and encouragement she has found as a non-traditional student at the University.

To listen to the radio interview, visit

Sowers has never met a challenge she didn’t like. After completing her associate’s degree in broadcast communications at Centralia College, Sowers journeyed to China where she taught English as a Second Language. While there, she took a job teaching English on the radio. After another radio job in Taiwan, she worked at CBS News Radio, then at the University of Washington and at a hospital.

Now 61, she is an outstanding example of the many non-traditional students pursuing a higher education, not always for economic reasons. The number of students 35 and older attending degree-granting institutions has grown from just under 2.5 million in 1990 to just over 3 million in 2009, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. The Center projects a rise of 20 percent in enrollments of people 25 and over at degree-granting institutions from 2007 to 2018.

“I’m determined to get my bachelor’s degree, then my master’s and Ph.D. so I can teach ESL at the college level,” says Sowers, an Olympia-area resident.

How’s she doing? Sowers will graduate from Saint Martin’s University May 7 with a degree in English, a minor in philosophy and a new job at a local radio station. In November, she presented a paper originally written for an ethics class before the Ninth Biennial Radical Philosophy Association Conference in Eugene, Ore.

As time allows, Sowers also writes a blog encouraging other would-be latecomers called “Late for Class: Back to College after 60.” It can be read at:

Sowers can be contacted through the University’s Office of Marketing and Communications, 360-438-4332,

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 22 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For further information:

Jennifer Fellinger
Vice president of marketing and communications
Saint Martin’s University