Life is a long and winding road, with many unexpected twists and turns all along the way.
Gloria Sadosky, C’16, encountered one of these twists when doctors diagnosed her husband with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis which restricts movement of the spine. Sadosky and her husband were looking to open their own bed and breakfast in Corpus Christi, Texas, one which is wheelchair-friendly and makes travel to and from hospitals and airports easier for guests. Finding herself forced to become the primary income earner in her family, Sadosky sought out SPCS Weekend College in Danville.
Weekend College is an accelerated,interdisciplinary studies bachelor’s degree-completion program, which allows students to earn their degree through one or two courses per semester in about two years. Students enroll in two, seven-week courses each semester, taking one course at time The weekend course load limits the weekly time commitment and allows people to accommodate an education into their busy schedules. New students are grouped into cohorts, peer groups which progress through the program together and attend the same classes and events.
Remarkably, Sadosky’s story is not the exception but the rule among the rest of her cohort, specifically, Monica Davis, C’16, and Pleshette Bowens, C’16.
Davis, wife and mother of four children from a few months old to college, knows there is no “clocking out” in parenthood. With a baby, a toddler, a teenager, and college student to look after, Davis often finds herself with little to no free time — let alone any time to focus on an education. “With a job it's eight hours a day,” Bowens remarked, “With a husband and children it’s non-stop.” When her previous job refused to allow her to take Saturdays off for class, Davis made the tough decision and resigned from her job in favor of finishing her studies.
Likewise, Bowens must strive to make work and school coexist. As an in-home aid to an Alzheimer’s sufferer, she devotes her days to her 83 year old patient, taking her on outings and dispensing meds when appropriate. Bowens, too, has faced many challenges in her life, including having her first patient relocate putting her out of a job. As she turned down job offers which couldn’t work around her school schedule, Bowens ended up going six weeks through winter without power. “When my daughter came home from college for Christmas, I had to send her to my mom's house,” Bowens recalled. “I felt like a failure.”
Despite the adversity these women have faced, their sights are still set on future goals. In addition to Sadosky’s disability-friendly bed and breakfast, Davis’ aim is to open transitional housing for displaced women in the Danville Area.
“We need a place where women can go for protection, provision and guidance,” Davis explained, “to help them get back on their feet and become productive citizens again.”
Bowens, on the other hand, has a similar altruistic goal: She would love to do nonprofit work. But her plans are flexible. “If I can't find anything local by year's end, I plan to relocate, she said. “Hawaii needs 1,600 teachers. That’s always an option.”
While Weekend College can’t take credit for these women’s accomplishments and the challenges they’ve overcome, it can take credit for bringing them together for their college experience. “I have enjoyed the idea of starting with those I started with,” noted Bowens, “and sharing each other's successes, struggles and tears has created a lasting bond. We were all at different stages in life yet we were all able to grow and learn.” According to Sadosky, “I will be ever grateful for not only the college education, but also the very personal college experience our cohort’s professors inspired in me.”
Weekend College may not be for everyone, but it’s exactly what these Danville students needed. The cohort system may not create automatic friendships, but it is a way to allow students to (re)acquaint themselves with classes and, just as importantly, each other. At the very least it provides perspective — that an education is obtainable, and that it shouldn’t be the toughest challenge someone has to deal with in life.