By David Delcore | Staff Writer
NORTHFIELD — If Tom Bodett ever wants to finish what he started at Michigan State University 38 years ago, odds are pretty good that the Community College of Vermont will leave the lights on for the long-time Motel 6 pitchman, radio personality and author.
Bodett earned that much on Saturday when the successful college dropout delivered a commencement address to a diverse group of students whom he applauded for doggedly pursuing the diploma that they all earned and he never did.
There’s still time.
If Bodett doubts that he need only speak to the senior member of CCV’s Class of 2013 — a 67-year-old Bethel woman who said she can now die happy because she finally finished what she started when she was a stay-at-home-mom in Barre more than four decades ago.
“I had to have a degree before I died,” said Alma Twombly, who remembers enrolling in her first CCV course in 1971.
“It wasn’t even an accredited college back then,” explained Twombly, who eventually moved from Barre to Bethel with her partner and their family before dropping back into CCV more than a decade ago.
It’s been a pay-as-you-go-take-courses-when-you-can experience for Twombly, who seemed pretty pleased it was over.
“I finally finished my degree,” she crowed, quickly adding it might eventually have company on the wall of her Bethel home.
Twombly, who said she would like to land a job working with teenagers, is seriously considering enrolling at Johnson State College next semester.
“I’m not done yet,” she said.
Neither is Semir Mahmutovic.
Mahmutovic, 22, arrived in Barre from Bosnia unable to speak English as a sixth-grader. He quickly learned, launched a cleaning company after high school, and started taking CCV courses because, he said, they were comparatively inexpensive and were a good fit with his busy schedule.
“Here I am today graduating,” Mahmutovic said with a mixture of pride and awe befitting the occasion.
Mahmutovic said he’s planning to pursue his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, possibly at Norwich University — the site of Saturday’s graduation ceremonies — or Champlain College.
“Two more years,” he said.
Not for April Sloan. At least not now.
Sloan, 29, of Proctor credits her coursework in early childhood education for landing a job she loves as a para-educator.
“It feels good to wake up every morning and say: ‘I love my job and I can’t wait to go to work,’” Sloan said, suggesting the actual diploma was just icing on the cake.
For more of the story, see the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus.