Years of writing papers in airports and taking exams in hotel rooms, as she juggled the busy schedules of her 12-year-old twin athletes, finally paid off for Cal State Fullerton graduate Sharon Tanner.
Undeterred from pursuing a college degree at the age of 42, the health science major graduated this month summa cum laude. The first in her family to graduate from college, Tanner says her accomplishment was possible in large part because of the University’s wide-ranging learning opportunities.
“Cal State Fullerton offered classes that were accessible online and at the Irvine Campus,” she said. “This was a huge plus for me because, as a full-time mother living in south county, I knew I needed a schedule that would not require long hours of driving if I was going to succeed at finishing my degree.”
During her time as a student, Tanner also trained as a physical therapy aide at Laguna Orthopedics Rehabilitation, assisted with American Red Cross blood drives as part of her service-learning, and worked in a health clinic in rural Mexico with the Southern California chapter of the Flying Samaritans.
“The diversity of CSUF really impacted my studies in health science, my understanding of diversity and how all members of our community can be better served,” said Tanner.
Immediately drawing on her education, this summer Tanner will travel to her homeland of South Africa to work in a rural health clinic. “I am excited to put my degree to use by giving back to an underserved community,” she said.
When she returns in August, she will begin applying to graduate schools to pursue a career as a physician assistant.
In her commencement speech to the Class of 2017 Department of Health Science, Tanner acknowledged her fellow graduates’ many stories of perseverance and encouraged them to continue stepping outside their comfort zones in pursuit of their goals.
“I stand here because of my journey at CSUF and because I had a community of Titans behind me who, when I said I can’t, said I can,” she said. “Keep growing and keep challenging yourself to learn — no matter your age.”