Three generations of one Irish American family enrolled this fall at UMass Lowell - a grandmother, daughter and granddaughter - support one another through the semester, The Boston Globe reports.
Decades after Mary Humble, 75, dropped out of school at age 15 to help with her family’s business in Bantry Bay, Ireland, she found herself back in the classroom.
“I just had that burning desire — whatever you want to call it,” Humble said of returning to school. “I didn’t go with any intention of staying as long as I did or pursuing a degree or whatever. I just loved to learn.”
She completed her GED and earned her associate’s degree at Middlesex Community College before enrolling at UMass Lowell.
“The very first day I walked in — when the reality hit and I’m physically inside in a room with youngsters young enough to be my kids or grandkids — I couldn’t help thinking, ‘oh my God. Have I gone crazy? What am I doing?’ ” Humble said.
However, Humble said she’s treated like any other student in the room and some of the younger student’s have even helped her with technology challenges.
She has pursued her studies, taking one or two classes a semester, despite being diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2001, when doctors gave her around three years to live. Outliving their predictions by nearly two decades, she will graduate with a degree in liberal arts this spring.
Deirdre Hutchison, 47, was inspired by her mother’s progress and last year enrolled at the university, majoring in history with a minor in English.
“It really just started niggling at me more and more,” said Hutchison. “I saw Mum doing it and ‘I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, OK, if she can do school in her 60s or 70s, then I can do it.’ ”
And this fall, Georgina Hutchinson, 19, Deirdre’s daughter and Mary’s granddaughter, enrolled as a student at UMAss Lowell, after transferring from a university in Pennsylvania.
“It’s definitely insane,” Georgina, a criminal justice major told the Boston Globe. “It’s not something every normal kid loves, but it’s nice to have people I know on campus. . . . It’s definitely a good role model to have them be so focused and so driven to do this well in schoolwork even though they’ve been out of it for so long.”
She added: “One good thing about having a parent go to school is they finally understand the struggle when kids say, ‘Mom, I don’t have time. I’m too busy. There’s too much school work. She gets to understand the workload. With her being so driven, it pushes me to do better.”
Said Deirdre Hutchison: “One thing I do like, going back as an older student [is that] I’m there because I really, really want to be there, and I want to do well, and I want to study and I want to learn all this stuff.”