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Heart warming stories by Anon, inspired by Doug McCammish

Anon writes from experiences he had while working with non-traditional students at a state university and who agrees with Doug McCammish (See: Doug McCammish: You're never to old to continue education), who is still a student half a century after obtaining engineering degrees from Georgia Tech. Both Anon and McCammish were inspired by the story of Tasha Perry (See: Tasha Perry: HS dropout to college through adult education).
Click on headlines for the stories of Jo-Ann, Marcus, Mr. Thommasson, and Angie which follow in the stories by Anon.

By Anon

"Don't let anyone tell you are too old or too far behind."

Thank you, Mr. McCammish. That is so very true.


Kudos to Tasha Perry for telling her story, and a tip of the hat to ColumbiaMagazine for publishing it.

During my years of employment at a state university, I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and working with hundreds of non-traditional students -- high school dropouts, young (and not so young) single parents, many who had started a college career five or fifty (no exaggeration) years earlier but had never completed a degree, and the list goes on.

Just a few examples (all names changed):

Jo-Ann, a young single Mom, a high school drop out with a GED and abysmal college entrance exams, was terrified of starting college but she also had a hot fire in her gut to make life better for herself and her daughters. She made the dean's list nearly every semester.

Marcus, who returned to college a dozen years after he'd been booted for terrible grades. In moment of brutal self-revelation, he told me, "I majored in parties and minored in drugs." By the time he re-entered school, after spending years in a pretty much dead-end job, he was focused and ready. He started back part-time and continued to work full time, made excellent grades, and was graduated with honors.

Mr. Thommasson, who walked into our office one day (this in the mid-1980s) and told my coworker, "I'd like to finish my degree." They got to talking, and he told an amazing story: He'd last attended college in the winter quarter of 1934 or '35 but had to quit because, as he put it, he could go to school or feed his family, but not both. Somehow, he wound up working at Redstone Arsenal and got to know several of the German scientists the US brought to America. Through all those years, however, he never lost the hunger for a formal education and the piece of paper to prove he had it, so somewhere in his mid- to upper seventies, he happily donned the cloak of scholarship and completed his four-year degree. A year later, bored without school, he came back and completed his Master's.

And there was Angie, who still calls me Gator (but that's a story best left untold for now). She started college with about equal measures of trepidation and determination, and managed an antique mall and drove a school bus (among other jobs) while a student. Although she took a break at one point, she persevered in school and her determination won out. For several years now, she's been happily and successfully employed by a major non-profit organization. (And by the by, her daughter picked up a love of education from tagging along to classes with Angie; she now practices law.)


This story was posted on 2017-09-14 13:40:22
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