October 25, 2001Mary Arsenault, age 69, is living proof that it’s never too late to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Thanks to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s 2 + 2 program at Cape Cod Community College, Arsenault will fulfill that lifelong dream and complete her studies in humanities/social sciences this December.The program, started in 1999, currently has 30 students enrolled, with most participants meeting twice per week for three-hour sessions at the Barnstable location. The 2 + 2 program is open to individuals with associate degrees or equivalent credits and provides junior and senior level courses taught by UMass Dartmouth faculty. The bulk of the students range in age from 41-65, but all demographics are represented from age 19 to above 65, according to academic advisor Nancy Moniz.Moniz says that convenience is the key to the program and the soon-to-be graduate agrees. “There’s a big need for something like this on Cape Cod,” Arsenault, a Yarmouth resident says. “All winter long, no matter what time of day, there is bumper to bumper traffic on route 28. It’s not just during the summer tourist season. We need a local school rather than having to drive an hour or more to Dartmouth or be caught in that traffic.”The evening schedule and open enrollment policy is also helpful to people who work full-time during the day, but want to earn an undergraduate degree.“We’re thrilled to be a partner with the community on the Cape,” says Dr. Susan C. Lane, associate vice chancellor for the Division of Continuing Education. “This program illustrates the university’s commitment to bring programs and work cooperatively with communities to provide courses and schedules they need.” Arsenault was unable to pursue her education beyond high school because of family responsibilities. She and her husband Roy had three children and for many years, she worked for the Department of Public Welfare in addition to holding an active social worker’s license. She eventually received her associate degree from Northern Essex Community College and took additional courses at Merrimack College prior to enrolling at UMass Dartmouth.“I’ve certainly benefited from the experience and all of the learning I’ve achieved,” Arsenault says. “My age is a wonderful time to earn a degree. When you are older and retired, you have more time and your top obligations in life are finished. You can devote the effort to writing papers over and over and concentrating on your studies,” she says. The grandmother of six describes all of her classes as “fascinating,” but particularly enjoyed courses on 20th Century History and the History of the Holocaust. “Learning about World War II and all that was going on was so interesting. I lived through it all and didn’t know what was happening at the time,” she says. Courses in psychology/sociology and English were also challenging and intriguing, she says.Arsenault will graduate earlier than her classmates because she took advantage of additional Division of Continuing Education options. She earned extra credits by participating in the Lifelong Experience Learning option, taking a Cyberspace course and traveling to Portugal as part of the Study Abroad Program.“This was my chance to get a university degree and I wanted to do it right,” she says.For more information on the 2 + 2 program, contact Academic Advisor Barbara Brown at (508) 999-8041.
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