CALS Graduate Proud to be an Alum after 22 Years

By Barb McBreen, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Education is important to Mike Schrum, that’s why he came back to Iowa State University to finish his degree 22 years after he left.

Schrum, who graduated in December with a degree in agricultural education and studies, says he always planned to come back. 

“When my daughters were young, I thought that as they got older it would be easier to find time,” Schrum said. 

Time didn’t get easier to come by and suddenly Charlotte was nine years old and Caroline was six. He knew he wanted them to go to college and that’s when he decided to finish his degree. 

“I wanted to do this for them,” Schrum said. “They will be college in no time and I didn’t think I could push the importance of education to them if I hadn’t finished.”

At the same time he was commuting nine hours a week to class, his wife, Annie, was working on her online degree. Schrum says their daughters will remember how hard they worked to get their degrees.

“We helped each other and adjusted our non-school schedules. She graduated in August and I graduated in December,” Schrum said. “My daughters were there as we sacrificed as a family. I didn’t do it alone.”

Along with family support, Schrum said his employer, The Andersons Ethanol Group in Denison encouraged him and gave him the flexibility to finish his degree.

“They were extremely flexible and understanding and I couldn’t have done it without their support,” Schrum said.

Schrum, who is a maintenance manager for the ethanol division, also wanted to be an example for the employees that work on his team.

“Since I returned to Iowa State, one of the most gratifying things for me is that two of the seven employees that work for me have now gone back to school,” Schrum said.
 
Another factor, Schrum said it was easy to work with advisers like Ben Chamberlain, an adviser in agricultural education and studies. 

“I was immediately impressed with his drive to finish and the effort he was willing to devote to completing his degree while working full time, having a family and a 90 mile commute,” Chamberlain said.  

Schrum said he enjoyed working with students and said he brought real life examples to the classroom. 

“I think I was able to provide some insight to the other students,” Schrum said. “I was able to say that’s exactly how I would have approached it 20 years ago, so I could provide input to give a different direction on subjects.”

Schrum hopes his example will inspire others to do the same. 

“I’m proud to be an alum and it will mean more to me when I’m in Ames at the football and basketball games,” Schrum said. “There’s a little more pride and I can cheer a little louder.”

March 18, 2019