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Learning for a Lifetime

July 2014


Sending graduates into the world with degrees and the expertise needed to succeed in their chosen fields is important. Providing them the skills to maintain a lifetime of learning is no less essential.

This is why life-long learning stands among the core values that provide context and purpose to the important work of St. Ambrose University.

Understanding the necessity for continual learning is the foundation of a university that is grounded in the Liberal Arts, focused on providing the tools needed for a lifetime of study, and driven to produce students who commit to learning, regularly and resolutely, well beyond their college careers.

Knowing the value of life-long learning also is the impetus for programs designed to provide academic opportunity for students of any age and in any station in life. A single mother of three school-aged children can improve her career prospects and, thus, the lives of her children by earning a St. Ambrose degree in engineering. A military veteran can find renewal and opportunity in pursuit of an SAU degree. Successful professionals looking for new and more purposeful challenges can enlist the university's array of strong graduate programs to become healers, educators and community leaders.

Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, our university's president, received an important lesson in life-long learning at the age of 10, when she came home frustrated from a fourth-grade classroom experience.

Joseph Lescinski, the father Sister Joan reverently described as a "gentle, reflective, poet of a man," recognized his young daughter's agitated state. When he asked what was troubling her, she twice explained the cause of her frustration. Neither time, however, did she answer the important question that followed.

"And what did you learn from that?" her father asked her once, twice and then again.

When finally she found the answer, her father-who never had a chance at a college education, but made certain his children would-followed with another reflective question his daughter always would remember: "And wasn't that an important thing to learn?"

It was, of course. But the larger lesson Sister Joan took away was more essential. The opportunities to learn in life are boundless, she said, and the capacity to find lessons within those opportunities is a precious gift.

"What it really taught me," Sister Joan said of that enlightening moment with her father, "was there is never a circumstance, an event, a person, even if negative, from which or from whom I cannot learn."

Graduates gain valuable stores of knowledge through their St. Ambrose experience, but Sister Joan believes the most essential lesson newly minted alumni take away is knowing how much they have yet to learn.

"There is a world we don't know," she said, "and we must always be trying to learn more about it."

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