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A lifetime of learning

HCC graduate has four college degrees

HCC graduate has four college degrees

March 17, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - At 73, Jone Thurmond knows all about the value of organization.

The mother of eight earned multiple college degrees while balancing the role of parent.

"My life was divided into segments. When I had children I was a mother, and when I divorced I had to earn a wage," said Thurmond, who has a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees and an associate's degree - earned in that order.

Thurmond received her bachelor's of science in architecture from Kent State University in 1955. Following a divorce from her first husband, she returned to Frostburg State University, where she completed work for her first master's degree, in business administration, in 1980, she said.

More than a decade later, she returned to Frostburg State to earn a master's in education, which she completed in 1999.

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In 2004, she received her associate's degree in general studies from Hagerstown Community College. Officials at all four schools confirmed the degrees.

"My last two degrees barely cost me anything outside of activities fees. I received a senior citizen discount at HCC and Frostburg," said Thurmond, who held down a full-time job while she earned both degrees.

Older than the baby-boomer generation, Thurmond is proof that women can pursue all sorts of interests well into their 70s and 80s, said Mariam Nelson, executive director of the National Center on Women Aging in Waltham, Mass.

And unlike a lot of women today, Thurmond quenched her thirst for learning without sacrificing her desire to have a family, Nelson said.

After earning her bachelor's degree, Thurmond moved to Arizona in 1956 to accept an apprenticeship with famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

"He was eccentric, but he was a marvelous architect," she said.

Thurmond considers herself a pioneer. Looking back on her multiple careers, she worked several local jobs in the electrical and telecommunications fields, where she frequently was the first or only woman, she said.

In the 1970s, she worked for Pangborn Corp. as a drafting board technician, but returned to college to earn her MBA after she was let go, due to a slow economy, she said.

Today, Thurmond teaches art at Washington County Technical High School.

"She's very competent and she takes her job very serious," said school Principal Jeffrey Stouffer.

When she's not teaching, Thurmond takes aerobics several times a week along with other courses at HCC. She also spends time gardening and maintaining her family's farm, where she recently installed a metal roof on a barn.

"I did it over a period of three or four years. I'd only do a quarter of the roof each summer and I finished it in 2004," Thurmond said.

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