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GCC Student Earns Long-Awaited Degree


Six years ago, while at a doctor’s office, Esther Edwards received news that her medical insurance had been cancelled by her employer.

Assured by her supervisor that her position would be held open for her while she recovered from an extended illness, Edwards was taken by surprise and concerned. The position, in customer service and retention, didn’t involve the use of advanced computer skills and Edwards realized that technology was getting away from her. Since she had always worked, losing a job while overcoming illness was especially difficult.

Edwards had earned a certificate from GCC in 1996, but returning to school to complete her degree was hard due to long workdays and raising a family. When she received information from the state about training for dislocated workers, she decided to enroll at GCC in 2014 to complete her associate’s degree. On May 23, Edwards received her degree in Business Office Technology at age 69.

While taking classes, Edwards worked for Associates for Training & Development (A4TD), which offers a senior community service employment program. A community and work-based job training program for older Americans who are unemployed and income eligible, A4TD eventually located a position well suited to her background that also simplified her schedule: a temporary position at the GREAT Center providing support for the SNAP program.

Edwards had started college after high school and admitted that returning to school in her sixties was an adjustment. She had to relearn study habits and, knowing that she was traveling to and from some classes at night, her three adult children expressed some concern. Enjoying the rewards of interacting with classmates and the value of learning new skills, she persisted.

Realizing that in life, “nothing lasts,” Edwards said that getting an education is particularly important and she learned along the way that persistence was the key to completing a degree that at times seemed elusive. “I finished what I started,” Edwards said.

Erika Lynch, interim director of non-credit programming, said that Edwards' perseverance has been evident.

“All of us at the GREAT Center enjoy working with Esther; she is thoughtful, intelligent and dependable. She has worked hard to attain her degree and we could not be prouder of her achievement,” Lynch said.

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