Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mother gets degree at GCC to fulfill wishes of daughter who died in car crash. Jan Broom to transfer to UMW to study memoir writing

Jan Broom holds a photo of her daughter Shannon, who inspired her to go back to school at Germanna. Shannon died in a car crash. Photo by SUZANNE CARR ROSSI, The Free Lance-Star ...


The Free Lance-Star

In the back of her mind, Jan Broom always felt she wasn't quite good enough.

After she graduated from high school in 1973, all of her friends headed off to college but she didn't have the money to go.

When her only child started college 20 years later, she pushed Broom to resume her own studies.

"She was firm with me. 'Mom, you've got to get a life of your own,'" Shannon Broom told her mother.

That launched Jan Broom on a journey that brings her to her own graduation. Tonight, Broom, 54, receives her associate degree in general studies from Germanna Community College.

She has been accepted into the bachelor's degree program at the University of Mary Washington, her daughter's alma mater.

"When the letter came, I realized I don't necessarily need to go. I just wanted to be able to say I got into the same college she did," Broom said this week during an interview at her Spotsylvania County home.

Broom plans to take a course on memoir writing at UMW this summer but is unsure if she'll continue her studies beyond that.

The goal is to tell Shannon's story.

Shannon Broom, 23, died in a car accident along State Route 3 on May 1, 1998. FITTING IN, STANDING OUT

Tonight, Broom will have the graduation she thought would never come.

Not only will she receive a college degree, her 78-year-old mother will be there.

The day Broom graduated from high school her mother had a medical emergency and missed the ceremony.

Throughout her studies at Germanna, Broom has had varying thoughts about being an older student.

She noticed those around her were in the throes of dramas that play out in the lives of 20-year-olds.

She found herself surrounded by incessant texting.

And she encountered one instructor who didn't think middle-aged women should be enrolled in high-tech courses.

She confronted the instructor, who changed his attitude and his mind.

And she took classmates under her wing.

Biology instructor Shashuna Gray was so impressed with Broom that she nominated her for an award of excellence for biology.

Gray described Broom as "a dedicated, hardworking student with a zeal for learning." She also noted Broom "considers herself the mother of the class and reaches out to help her classmates study and prepare for course assignments."

Broom was honored to be one of 33 Germanna students singled out for an award but said she wasn't initially ecstatic about how she was described.

"At first, I was offended a bit," Broom said. "And in the next second, I thought there couldn't be anything better.

"That's what I wanted to be--a mother."
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972 Email: pgould@freelancestar.com

"Janice Broom is a dedicated, hardworking student with a zeal for learning, especially biology. Jan considers herself the mother of the class and reaches out to help her classmates study and prepare for course assignments. It has been an honor to have her in both Biology 101 and 102." --Instructor Shashuna Gray, on why Broom was chosen for an award of excellence in biology.

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