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ACCC High Honors Graduate, 43, Puts Life's Lessons to the Test

May 30, 2008

Stephanie Gregory of Galloway always sensed she was smart. But she didn't realize just how bright she was until she decided to return to college in mid life to earn her associate degree in general studies. In fact, she's so intelligent that she recently graduated from Atlantic Cape Community College with a 4.0 grade point average. She addressed her fellow graduates at the May 29 commencement as the high honors speaker.

Stephanie Gregory

The 43-year-old single grandma has been working as a waitress throughout her adult life. She often considered going back to school to earn a college degree, but kept putting her plans on the back burner. Then about three and a half years ago she decided to put her money where her mouth is in regard to furthering her education.

"I did go to college for a little while when I was 18," she said. "But I stopped. I thought about going back, but didn't. Then I ran out of excuses for not going back to school."

To her pleasant surprise, she did very well. "I hadn't been in school in so long that I forgot what it was like," she recalled. "Then I realized I was smart and kept at it."

At one point in her life, Gregory struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. She finally got clean and sober, and has remained so for 16 years. Her goal is to put her degree and her personal experiences to good use by helping others who are struggling with addiction.

Prior to entering the degree program, Gregory enrolled in a certificate program at ACCC for drug and alcohol counseling. She also entered a work/study program for addicts and troubled teenaged girls.

Now that she has her degree, with the highest honors to boot, she's considering broadening her career horizons by attending Rutgers at ACCC to pursue a degree in social work.

She strongly encourages others who are thinking about going back to school later in life to take the plunge.

"My advice is, if you have any inkling that you can do it, absolutely, positively go for it. It's never too late to pursue your dreams. You'd be very surprised at what you can dig up within yourself."