Sunday, November 20, 2011

"It's never too late," says Germanna Community College student who overcame her fears to return to school after 27 years



Sherry Loehr spent 14 years as a substitute teacher in Spotsylvania County, “and I loved every minute of it.”
But to get where she wanted to go in teaching, she needed a teaching certification, and she didn’t have one.
She put off going to college for years, thinking she was too old--that she wouldn’t be able to do it.
Now she has an evangelical zeal about people beyond the “traditional” students’ age going back to school, even if they fear that they’ll be too rusty to pick up where they left off.
“I want to tell everyone they can do it,” Loehr said.
“Even if they don’t test well in the math or English, Germanna will help you.”
After having been out of school for 27 years, Loehr needed some tuning up on math. “I was afraid I was going to fail the [placement] test. For an older student like me, that was really scary. But you don’t fail, you just take developmental classes. I needed a little refresher. I don’t feel I would have passed calculus and statistics if I hadn’t had that background.”
Once she jumped into the pool, she said, the water was warm. All her fears faded away and she loved it.
“If there’s anything I got from this whole experience, it’s that it’s never too late,” she said.
Germanna President David A. Sam likes to say that America’s reached a point at which lifetime learning is a necessity--that everyone is going to have to change jobs a number of times. That we will have to reinvent themselves. And that we all need to take classes to stay current in whatever our field is right now.
“I thought I was too old to go back to school and that if I did, once I finished school, I would be too old to get a job,” Loehr said. “Now I know I’m going to get a job--and I have at least 20 years to work.”
She earned her associate’s degree at GCC and transferred to the University of Mary Washington, where she’s decided she wants a career in historic preservation.
“Germanna really prepared me so well,” she said. “Everybody was saying it was going to be so much harder at UMW, but it’s not.”
She has four children, all of whom attended Germanna.
Her daughter Sarah Loehr entered GCC’s nursing program, then transferred to VCU to earn a financing degree and now is studying law.
Her son Paul Loehr started at Longwood. “He joined a fraternity and things sort of went downhill. It wasn’t a good situation. My husband and I said, ‘You need to come home. He did and things went reaally well.” After getting back on course at Germanna, he transferred to VCU, where he was a business major and earned a degree in accounting.
Her son Adam dropped out of high school, got his GED with Germanna’s help, then entered Germanna’s Automotive Program. “Adam has a wonderful job working as an automotive specialist in downtown Fredericksburg, “ she said.

“Last year my baby, Matthew, my youngest child, was going to J. Sergeant Reynolds. He was unhappy. He came back home and went to Germanna, and I thought it was pretty funny that we took four classes together.” Matthew was 18 and his mother was 46.
But no one’s laughing at this older, “non-traditional” student.
“My kids are so proud of me,” she said. “They really admire that I’m able to do this.”
“I want to tell everyone they can do it. It’s never too late.”
Once you take that leap, she said, you can succeed.
“Germanna’s changed my life.”

She said she’s also glad she started at Germanna because: “I saved so much money. If I’d spent those first two years at a four-year school, I would have accumulated a lot of debt.”
She said GCC saved her family a great deal of money in the education of her four children, too.
“I was one of those parents who bought into the idea of prestige. ‘My kid’s got to go to UVa; my child needs to go to this big school.’ It was peer pressure.’
She said her oldest daughter Sarah initially wanted to stay home and go to Germanna, but she pressured her to go elsewhere. Then Sarah ended up at GCC anyway, until she was ready to leave home. Now she’s at the Charlotte School of Law.
“Parents need to think about how much savings they’d have if they sent their children here for two years,” she said. “They’ll still get bachelor’s degrees that say ‘Mary Washington’ or the name of whatever four-year school they transfer to.”

1 comment:

Adrian Hall said...

Hi, I am agree with you and highly appreciated with you! For this position, Parents must become responsible for their children. The public school system was established to help educate children not to be responsible for children. This is more important to remember that it's never too late so, get set go!