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The Last Word

Linda Mecca '08How intriguing Albright’s campus seemed as I drove past it on my way home from my job in Wyomissing. Fifteen years ago I was a business-forms designer for a major printing company, and as a way to unwind after work, I would take the scenic way home—“up over the mountain.” With the turn onto Bern Street, the campus grounds appeared lovely and welcoming, the energy of the students rushing to classes was vibrant, and the events on the Thirteenth and Bern streets marquee seemed interesting. Little did I know that years later I would be both an employee and a graduate of Albright.

When I saw the job opening in the classifieds and read the phrase “A Different Way of Thinking” on the College’s web site, I knew that Albright and I would suit each other fine. When I started working on campus in late fall 2003, it was not my intention to attend classes. But, as Class Notes writer for The Reporter, I soon became inspired by reading the accomplishments of Albright alumni that came across my desk every day. Although it took me almost a year to get up the courage to talk to an adviser in the Degree Completion Program, the desire to become a part of “the community” overcame my fear of going back to college at the age of 49. In September 2004, I began my first class—English 101.

However, my journey to Albright did not start with a shortcut drive through campus. I was the first female in my family to attend college, receiving a degree from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Even though I was eager to begin my design career, I regretted ending my education with an associates degree. So I assured myself that “some day” I would continue on.

One of those “some days” came when I was fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom to my 3-yearold son, Nathan. The community college near my home in New Jersey offered evening classes, so I enrolled in my first course in psychology. But, a move to Pennsylvania and the passing of a couple decades later, I found that the “some day” of completing my bachelor’s degree had still not arrived. In fact, it seemed all the more unreachable. However, I soon realized that Albright’s applied psychology program and my lifelong interest in psychology were a perfect fit.

Finding the answers to profound questions has been my personal quest for a long time: It was 1965, and I knew that something was terribly wrong when I heard hushed voices speaking compassionately about the young man who was gravely ill. That young man, 37 years old, was my father, and he was dying from a brain tumor. Those subdued voices were concerned about the two young children who would grow up without a father. This experience— the impact of the loss of a father on children—was the subject of my first research paper in the applied psychology program.

Completing a traditional education in a nontraditional way is quite a challenge, especially when you’re navigating through the complex academic workload that comes with the applied psychology program. Yet, my experience is similar to that of other accelerated degree students who attend cohort classes for two years nonstop: juggling a full-time job, taking care of a family, maintaining a home, pets and a personal life—all while completing 20 hours or more of homework, research and studying every week. Toss in some deadlines, stress and a lack of sleep and it’s what I imagine being in a tornado is like: chaos. My personal twister tossed in a tragic death in my family and major surgery that kept me from several classes. It was tempting to give up, but I thought, how could I come so far and so close to my goal and not finish?

The twists and turns of life landed me at Albright to fulfill my “some day.” Things happen for a reason . . . as a result of time well spent, the little boy I nurtured is now a fine young man of whom I am very proud. The tough challenges of life made me stronger, and the starts and stops of attending college over the years produced the credits I needed to enroll in the Degree Completion Program.

With encouragement from my family, friends and professors, a belief in a higher power and knowing that this might be my last “some day,” I have earned that elusive bachelor’s degree. I proved to myself that I could do it, and I now have those longed-for graduation numbers—’08—behind my name. To achieve this at Albright is indeed an honor.

My time has been well spent.

- Linda Mecca ’08

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