Lifelong Learners: Cheryl Boyle

Cheryl Boyle

Cheryl Boyle 

Degree: Doctor of Education (EdD)

School: Lewis University

Anticipated Graduation: December 2023

Throughout her life, Cheryl Boyle’s work has always come back to education, despite not starting out in the field.

As a nurse, she worked in many clinical settings butserved as a nurse educator, too. When she homeschooled her children, teaching became even more central to everything Boyle did. She changed careers in midlife and picked up degrees in music and literature, eventually opening a boutique music lesson service. And this past summer, she took on a faculty position at Aurora University.

Still, Boyle says, “I really wanted a terminal degree, a doctoral program. This program is really focused on theory, active critique of society, diversity, educational policy, and how all people learn.”

She plans to use her degree to act on those critiques. “This gives me the credential to make the change in the lives of others as well as my own,” Boyle says.

One aspect of society she would love to change: how people think about aging.

“It seems in our country we have a formula: You reach a certain age, and you’re supposed to cut your hair, stop being stylish, or stop achieving, stop working,” Boyle says.

In reality, older people stand to enrich the classroom. “Older students bring a wide array of teaching and learning skills to the classroom because they’ve had to process so much information through life, using complex and different angles and approaches,” Boyle says.

She adds that people regularly make judgmental comments about her pursuing a degree at an advanced age, questioning what she’ll do with it. 

Boyle remains undeterred. “Our population is older now. People live longer, and they’re making different choices for that time period in their life,” she says. “It’s definitely not the end of real living; it’s an opportunity to reach your fullest potential.” 

Above photo by Jim Vondruska
Originally published in the Winter/Spring 2023 print issue.