Steve Engle

An emotional Steve Engle proudly hoists his diploma and waves to his family at graduation while his mentor, Dr. Barbara Henry (left), looks on.

Second time is a charm for returning alumnus

While Steve Engle of Colorado is past president and an active member of the BGSU Denver alumni chapter, there was one thing he was missing: a diploma. Engle, who is a special projects coordinator for Aflac Insurance, left the University to get married in 1972 just shy of completing his coursework.

In the intervening years, though he was a successful businessman living in his dream location, “I felt incomplete,” he recalled. And after attending a number of graduation ceremonies for others, the feeling nagged at him, as did the promise he had made to his parents, now deceased, that he would return to college.

That all changed Dec. 15 when he received his diploma in education, surrounded by family members, friends and fellow alumni from Colorado, and Dr. Barbara Henry, director of student and academic services in the College of Education and Human Development. It was Henry who mentored him and put together the program that allowed Engle to finish his degree.

Making the occasion even more special was that he shared it with his daughter, Janelle, who graduated with a major in visual communication and technology education and a minor in marketing.

The two have shared her apartment this semester while he lived the life of a student once again. “She’s been very helpful to my cause,” he said, remembering that when he was first on campus there were no computers, no cell phones, and women were required to swim across the former Eppler pool to graduate.

Though the work was challenging to the returning student, it also provided some unexpected bonuses. As part of his Families in Middle and Older Age course, Engle was required to interview a person age 70 or older. He reconnected with an aunt in Tiffin whom he had not known well before, and eventually wrote a 40-page paper on her life. He also enjoyed the discussions in his classes, feeling that his life experience gave him a different perspective from the rest of the students. Now, “I want to take more courses; it’s so much fun—just not with the pressure of all these papers,” he said as he studied for three finals last week.

Engle said he has again been impressed with the quality of his education at BGSU the second time around. “I’ve had four Ph.D.s as professors and another as an advisor,” he observed, “and everyone was really kind.”

Active student
As a former alternate Freddie Falcon, varsity swimmer, president of his fraternity and member of the Anteans Society, an honorary Greek leadership organization, Engle was an engaged student, but changing his major had caused him to lose ground in his progress toward graduation. When his wife, the former Suzanne Kapler, graduated, he felt it was time to get on with his life. “I felt I had to show her I would actually work,” he joked.

As true “Falcon Flames,” the two had met in Biology 101 in Hanna Hall. “Sue was a wonderful woman and I knew I needed to be with her,” he said. The two chose Colorado as the place they wanted to live. Suzanne is now a partner in an accounting firm specializing in not-for-profit organizations such as the Denver Zoo and Art Museum.

Last year, with Janelle, a legacy scholar, beginning her final year at BGSU, and having reached a point in his career when he could take some time off, Engle contacted the University about the possibility of returning. Brenda Sattler in the registrar’s office was the first to take up his case and get him pointed in the right direction, which turned out to be Henry, in Human Development and Family Studies.

“She was critical,” Engle said. “She took the time to get my transcripts from 1968-72 and put together a program for me. I wanted to succeed but I didn’t know what to take. I’ve met with her about every two weeks. She rescued me.”

The family showed its appreciation for Henry by presenting her a special “Engle Family Award” at a luncheon in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union following graduation Saturday.

Now Engle can start the new year and the next phase of his life—as a college graduate.

December 17, 2007