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72 years young, MSUM graduate 'excited to see what's next'

Marijo Vik will graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead on Friday, May 11, with a degree in multimedia journalism. At 72, she is believed to be one of MSUM's oldest graduates. Patrick Springer / The Forum1 / 2
Aaron Quanbeck, an associate professor of journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead, gives Marijo Vik a couple of journalism awards. Patrick Springer / The Forum2 / 2

MOORHEAD — Retirement didn't agree with Marijo Vik. Days after retiring at age 70 she decided to resume college studies that she'd set aside years earlier because of work.

When Vik first attended what now is Minnesota State University Moorhead, in 1990, she was pursuing a degree in business. By the time retirement gave her the chance to return, her interests had changed.

She wanted to develop her writing skills, so opted to study journalism. Now, at age 72, Vik will be among the almost 900 students who will graduate from MSUM on Friday, May 11, in Nemzek Fieldhouse.

"I'm just as excited as any 21-year-old thinking what's next," she said. "I don't know what's next. I'm excited to see what's next."

Actually, Vik does have an inkling of what might be next. She's exploring graduate studies in theology. She already serves as a lay minister, but feels called to do more.

Vik's work history already is widely varied. She has worked as a secretary, team facilitator, computer software trainer and factory shift administrator. For the last decade, she has added newspaper reporter to the list.

She reports for the Twin Valley Times, a newspaper in Norman County, and also serves as part-time secretary at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Hendrum and as a part-time accounts payable and receivable manager at a business. On top of that — and her course work at MSUM — she preaches several times a month as a lay minister.

How does she juggle all of those demands on her time?

"I think she doesn't sleep," said Karie Kirschbaum, publisher of the Twin Valley Times and two other Minnesota weekly newspapers. "I get emails from her at 1 o'clock in the morning. She just gets it done."

Vik's reporting career was born when she showed up at a water board meeting, an issue of concern to her because she and her husband live on a farmstead near Ada. She took detailed notes, and somebody noticed.

Soon, she had an offer to write for the Twin Valley Times. "She cares about our community," Kirschbaum said, adding that Vik covers many local government beats. "She covers some of the heavier lifting. Her research skills are unbelievable."

At MSUM, Vik found that she had to earn a degree in multimedia journalism. She saved a course in broadcast news for her final semester, since she found shooting and editing video daunting.

Recently, Vik introduced multimedia to the Twin Valley Times' website, with a new feature of video segments. "I think she's just getting started," Kirschbaum said, chuckling.

Vik's much younger fellow students took more naturally to multimedia, she said. "I'm 50 years older than most of the kids in the classes," she said. "I call them kids. They're in their 20s. I have grandchildren that age."

Curious, Vik checked with the MSUM archivist to see if the university kept a record of its oldest graduate. A search didn't turn up a record of an older graduate. "She said as far as I'm concerned you're officially the oldest," Vik said. "It makes me feel ancient."

With her graduation imminent, Vik is open to new possibilities. "We'll see," she said of her future. "I don't know where God's leading me, and I don't know what He'll do with me. Maybe I'll use my background in multimedia journalism in religion."

As she looks back on the unpredictable trajectory of her life and her career, it now all seems to fit together. She is the sum of all of her experiences. Nothing in life is wasted.

"Every lesson is a lesson that comes back to me," she said.

If you go:

What: Commencement at Minnesota State University Moorhead

When: 10 a.m. Friday, May 11, for graduates of the College of Arts, Media and Communication, College of Business and Innovation, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and graduate studies; 2 p.m. for the College of Education and Human Services, College of Science, Health and the Environment, and graduate studies.

Where: Nemzek Fieldhouse, MSUM campus

Details: Alumnus Kevin Wallevand will be the commencement speaker at both ceremonies. Wallevand has been a reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983 and has received recognitions including Emmy and Edward R. Murrow awards. He is an adjunct instructor in the MSUM School of Communication and Journalism.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com

(701) 241-5522
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