Grandmother finds it’s never too late to learn

Dora Bucklew

It was time, Dora Bucklew decided, to follow her heart.

With her two children grown and her husband recently on disability, she started by building on the foundation of her experience as a licensed practical nurse. “I asked myself, ‘Why not do what I want to do?” she said. “This really is my time to do something for me, to do what I love.”

Dora quickly found she enjoyed face-to-face learning more than an online forum, and started Stark State’s LPN to RN nursing degree program. The Brewster-area grandmother and church chime choir director found the support and mentoring of instructors was better than she bargained for. “It made a huge difference,” she said. “They explained things so well. I’m the kind of person who says, ‘Don’t just tell me about it, tell me the why and how.’”

Her classroom success qualified her for Phi Theta Kappa, the community college honorary. “I jumped on that boat right away,” Dora said. “It opened doors – scholarships, leadership, opportunity for personal growth.” As a regional PTK president, Dora recently returned from the national convention in San Jose, Calif. and will head to a week-long honors institute in Philadelphia this summer.

“I had given up, but I realize now that 45 is not too old,” she said. “With all the encouragement from everyone here, now my goal is to get my bachelor’s and master’s degree and teach. That’s my true desire.”

It’s a dream inspired by Dora’s teachers and fellow students. “Our nursing program has some of the absolute best instructors,” she said. “They’re people who care and they’ve been in the field so they understand what you’re going through or about to go through. They see in you what you don’t see in yourself.”

Even after Dora graduates, she’ll be on campus another year taking advantage of SSC’s affordable general education courses to apply toward her bachelor’s degree.

“As an older student I had a lot I had to adapt to,” she admitted. “For instance, I had to learn about social media to communicate with my classmates and PTK members. But I’m still a face-to-face person. No matter what, human contact is still important.”

It’s what Stark State is all about. “I would tell people to come find out,” Dora said. “You can get more out of it than you ever imagine. You need to commit to complete; it’s so important to finish what you started. It might be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do, but it’s important to finish. When you have that certificate or degree in hand, now you’ve accomplished something.

“Without Stark State,” she said, “I would not have gotten this far.”