Adult Graduate SeparatedWork and Studies

May 6, 2005

PICTURE DESCRIPTIONLinda DeBerardinis would not even have needed to get in her car after work to continue her undergraduate education at Virginia Commonwealth University. She already held a position at the university, as an administrator for the Honors Program. But DeBerardinis was drawn to Mary Baldwin University, whose main campus was 100 miles away.

Convenient for her, the college’s Richmond regional center – where DeBerardinis could take classes in the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs (Baldwin Online and Adult Programs) – was just a hop, skip, and a jump from her VCU office.

Mary Baldwin’s Baldwin Online and Adult Programs program started with eight students in 1977 and now boasts almost 2,200 graduates. DeBerardinis is one of about 130 Baldwin Online and Adult Programs students who received their diplomas and joined the ranks of Baldwin Online and Adult Programs alumni at Commencement May 15.

“What clinched the decision for me was Mary Baldwin’s flexibility,” said DeBerardinis, who started taking courses in Fall 2000. “The college and the professors who work in the Richmond center understand the commitments adult students have outside of school. The option to take classes not just in the traditional, classroom way, but as independent study and online, was very appealing.”

Mary Baldwin University, unlike many other adult degree programs, also accepted almost all the college credits DeBerardinis accumulated by taking a class here and there in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

PICTURE DESCRIPTIONIn January 2005, a little less than five years after she took her first Mary Baldwin class – Intermediate Composition – DeBerardinis finished the coursework for her degree in sociology. She will soon receive her diploma and be inducted into the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs honor society, Alpha Sigma Lambda, in front of family and friends. But she won’t say good-bye to the college – she will begin work on a graduate degree from Mary Baldwin’s Master of Arts in Teaching program in Fall 2005.

Judy McMahon, DeBerardinis’ advisor and confidant for several years, encouraged her to pursue an advanced degree in education. McMahon says DeBerardinis will easily master both the science and the art of the profession, which will translate into success in the classroom.

“If I were a student, I would want to be in her class,” said McMahon, who is now retired. “She is the most enthusiastic student I’ve had in 18 years as an advisor. She saw all the things the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs could offer her, and she used them to her fullest advantage.”

DeBerardinis drove with another student from Richmond to Mary Baldwin’s regional center in Charlottesville one semester to take a course with May Guenin, adjunct instructor of sociology. There were not enough students enrolled in the Richmond center to hold the class there, and DeBerardinis did not hesitate to drive the extra miles.

“The way Linda cared for other people came through in her work for my classes,” Guenin said. “She was not just a conscientious student; she was a conscientious person.”

DeBerardinis also didn’t mind driving from Richmond to Staunton to attend the college’s annual Spring Fling, a party to congratulate graduating seniors for their hard work. Baldwin Online and Adult Programs students rarely attend the event, but DeBerardinis saw it as an opportunity to connect with the main campus in Staunton and the people who work in the Baldwin Online and Adult Programs offices there.

Even though DeBerardinis chose not to attend classes where she works, she said her colleagues have been nothing but supportive of her earning her degree.

“People are always asking me what I’m going to do now that I have my degree, and I tell them that I’m not going to do anything different. I’m still me, and I still like my job and my life,” she said. “I’m a more educated version of myself.”