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Why I Returned to College at 50

Updated: May 25, 2020

I'm a senior in an Integrative Studies program at Oakland University that fuses creative writing with education. Writing is what my life revolves around now, and I am so excited about every aspect of this process. Graduation is planned for May 2020, then I will write chapter books for students with language-based learning challenges. I live in Troy with my husband and youngest daughter who is a freshman in high school. My eldest daughter has three children, and I am happy that they live nearby.  My son recently graduated from OU with a Math Degree and he is a really cool math tutor. We have two cats and a standard poodle puppy who is teething on just about every shoe that I own, even the ones that I just bought and haven’t worn yet. I was thinking it would be great to live on campus, but I decided that living at home would be best for my family and to supply shoes for the dog. I am sure the students who live in the dorm agree with this decision as well.

This poem sums up my past:

Why I returned to College at 50?
By Nancy Roop
Growing up, Mom often declared,
“I pay for college and not weddings.” 
I started in ‘86 and stopped in ‘89.
An Associates Degree was not the goal.
I put becoming a teacher on hold and married.
The army moved us to Denver and Germany.
My son came and later, the divorce.
I worked my way up a different path in HR.
I fulfilled a childhood dream and adopted a tween who needed me.
Even though I was not looking, I found love and married.
And again, paid for my own wedding.
Feeling satisfied with my life, I had no reason to return.
I quit working to attend to my daughter at age 2.
Because of developmental delays, she needed to be taught things
That other kids would absorb just by living life.
I learned about play therapy and sensory diets--and she thrived!
Then, for seven years I worked at an elementary school.
I supported academics and independence for students with
Autism by meeting their behavioral and emotional needs.
I really cared about my student’s education.
One day, I could not find a book that my student was
Interested in and able to read on their own. I searched for
Real-life story lines without figures of speech and 
Illustrations that were not too busy.
In complete frustration, I thought to myself,
Someone needs to write books for these kids!
It did not take long to realize that I could write
Books for students with learning differences. 
I discovered a need that was not being met,
And finally had a reason to return to college.
Within three months, I was back.
My Future Bio:

Nancy Roop writes books for students who have language-based learning challenges. She worked as a Special Education Aide with elementary students who have autism for seven years. During that time, she often had trouble finding books for students, because their reading level often did not match up to their grade level. And the topics...reading about dancing frogs and aliens in spaceships were just too confusing for those who take in every word literally. For striving readers, every minute of reading counts and frustration needs to be kept at a minimum. For students with autism, reading stories about everyday life supports self-regulation and socialization.

One day, Roop was searching for a book for a fourth grader but could not find one that fit the student’s personality and reading level. She thought, somebody needs to write books for these kids! The next day while reflecting, she realized that she could write books that her students need. She stopped working and went back to college. She graduated from Oakland University in May 2020 with a Bachelors in Integrative Studies--a degree that fused writing creative nonfiction with education. She stays current with the needs of her readers by guest teaching in classrooms and attending reading conferences. Roop is an active member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

My Pitch:

Alex the Storyteller is a hybrid graphic novel/chapter book series about a fifth grader who is passionate about telling tales that peers with autism can comprehend and enjoy. The language is literal and concise. The first story is about what to expect the first day at school.

Alex’s First Story Synopsis:

Stephen at School is formulated like a social story. Social stories are factual stories that explain detailed aspects of life that come natural to typical learners. Some children with autism need step by step instructions and these stories provide a model for appropriate behavior, as well as introduce changes in schedules or expectations. This story follows Stephen on a typical day at school including text about transitions and what to do when feeling overwhelmed.

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