New CU grad realizes dream of college degree 43 years after high school

May 28, 2020
Teresa Sedoris Palmer
Teresa Sedoris Palmer

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work,” said retired Gen. Colin Powell.

Teresa Sedoris-Palmer had a dream when she graduated from high school: “My dream was to go to art school, but for financial reasons, I could not.”

That was 1977, and financial aid options that exist today were not available then. Sedoris-Palmer began working, got married and started a family.

"Since I had not had the opportunity to go to college when I was young, it became really important to me that my two children did," she said.

When her daughter graduated from Geneva College in 2006, it resuscitated Sedoris-Palmer's 29-year-old dream of a college education for herself. Her son was next to enroll in college, and while he was finishing his degree at Clarion University, she decided it was her time. In 2010, at age 50, she enrolled as a freshman at Clarion. She chose online classes for the flexibility that would allow her to continue working full time.

"Since I was starting back to school later in life, I figured I'd better be practical and pursue the degree that would be most helpful to me. I chose business management, because that was the field I was already working in," she said. "I wanted to advance higher in management and have more career opportunities. I have also considered starting my own business or buying into a franchise, and I wanted to know everything I would need to make a business venture successful."

Her days were long.

"My normal day involved getting up at 3 a.m. to get ready for work, driving an hour to work, working 10 to 12 hours, then driving an hour back home," Sedoris-Palmer said. "A quick dinner, then I would do schoolwork most nights."

Weekends, too, were devoted to schoolwork so she could get ahead on her studies and be able to get enough sleep during the week.

Clarion's online classes are delivered and structured to foster interaction with other students, faculty, and the university as a whole, and that helped Sedoris-Palmer feel like a true Golden Eagle.

"Interacting in class discussions made me feel that I was a part of the student body, and watching lectures made me feel that I was part of a real classroom," she said.

Because she lives in the Clarion area, Sedoris-Palmer had opportunities to visit campus and interact with students and professors during inductions into several honor societies, including the Golden Key International Honor Society, National Society of Leadership and Success, and Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society.

In January, Sedoris-Palmer celebrated her 60th birthday with the ultimate gift to herself – completion of her degree – only a few credits away. The class she needed to graduate wasn't offered online in the spring semester, so she enrolled in her only face-to-face class.

"Taking the class on campus turned out to be a really good experience," she said. "It was nice meeting my professor face to face, and it was nice being part of a classroom setting. I was really impressed with how some of the young students in the class made me feel welcome and accepted me as part of their group."

Throughout her 10-year educational journey, Sedoris-Palmer found the faculty to be readily available and willing to help, academically and personally. She particularly appreciated her advisor's guidance when her brother was diagnosed with cancer and she needed to reduce her academic load. Her brother has since recovered.

Just 19 days after completing her bachelor's degree, Sedoris-Palmer was offered and accepted a management position with a local company.

"Once I start to do something, I always see it through. It was a long stretch, but I stayed focused on the end result and getting my degree," she said. "I'm so excited to be starting a new adventure."

Last Updated 5/28/20