Success StoriesCheryl Mashack
Class of 2017, Sociology Major
Cheryl is a recent graduate of Lehman College’s Adult Degree Program. She successfully earned a degree in Sociology in 2017. We spoke with Cheryl about her journey at Lehman, her experience with the Adult Degree Program, and how earning her degree has impacted her life, personally and professionally.
ADP: What motivated you to apply for Lehman’s Adult Degree Program? Cheryl: One concern for me was transferring all these undergraduate credits I had earned over the years. I went back and forth looking at different schools and at first, I was looking at programs that were fully online. But then I considered that I am a visual learner, so I wasn’t sure a fully online program would be the right fit. I also had a friend and relative that went through the Adult Degree Program and they encouraged me to try it. It was close to home and offered flexibility so I decided to learn more. I spoke to Pam [Director of the Adult Degree Program] and to Hicana [Associate Director of ADP] and the rest is history.
ADP: Why did you choose Lehman’s Adult Degree Program?
Cheryl: I found it very helpful in catering to adult learners. I tell people about it because I found it to be flexible enough for me and for what I needed. They even have classes on the weekend. [ADP] really lays everything out for you.
ADP: In what ways has the college experience helped you or changed you?
Cheryl: Most of my experience was wonderful. There were some technical difficulties at first—figuring out admissions, registration, etc.—but I can say that ADP helped me along with that, which made it easier. Sitting with Hicania and Pam really helped. They helped me through that process. Being an adult [learner], I thought I was going to feel out of place, but I actually found it was a great mix and we helped each other; we worked together. I met people that I still keep in touch with.
ADP: How has Lehman (and/or who at Lehman) (professor, advisor, etc.) has inspired you or helped make your journey a success?
Cheryl: Professor Susan Dumais in the Sociology department is wonderful. I took more than one class with her and I enjoyed her classes immensely. Her classes were more of a dialogue than just lecturing. We learned from each other and everyone was able to express themselves.
ADP: How has your life changed since graduation?
Cheryl: My sociology degree has helped me in my current job. I work in pediatric radiology so I deal with parents. Parents come in and are afraid. Some aspects of sociology helped me learn how to calm fears and to look at things happening in our society to see and understand how certain communities are thriving while others are not and why.
ADP: What advice would you give to prospective students or students just starting classes?
Cheryl: Don’t get frustrated. There are lots of resources. It’s easy to get frustrated and say “I don’t have time for this.” If you just hang in there and use the resources—Lehman has many resources that you can tap into—and fight through it. Many of us say, “I’m going to put this down and come back to it.” But then the longer we put it down, the longer we put it off. Once you get through the door, don’t stop until you get it done.
ADP: What achievement or contribution are you most proud of?
Cheryl: First, I am proud to have accomplished something that I set out to do for a long time. Just to finish [my degree] was a huge accomplishment. Second, to be an example and to be able to say even if you’re older, you can still do it. You’re never too old to learn something. If I can do it, you can do it too. I’m not 20; I’m not 25, but I did it so you can too.
ADP: What is the biggest challenge you faced as an adult learner?
Cheryl: The biggest challenge was probably time management and figuring out the technology but Lehman has many resources that you can tap into.
ADP: Did you take the Prior Learning class? Tell me about this class and the process.
Cheryl: Yes, I did! I actually enjoyed it. At first it was challenging just trying to determine what I wanted to write about; what I wanted my portfolio to be about. Once I narrowed it down and honed in specific topics, it was great because then I was able to build on it.
ADP: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Cheryl: As an adult learner, a lot of times, you’re afraid because you think you will be a fish out of water, especially with younger students in the classroom. Just having an open mind and being able to deal with people of all ages and cultures, being open to a learning environment, the experience will be pleasant. I found that a lot of younger students were very helpful. It was so pleasant because I was able to share my experiences with them also. Don’t close yourself off; you can learn from anybody.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.