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Jeanne Sager | Democrat

Jessica Olsen of North Branch, a newly minted SCCC Class of 2007 graduate will continue her education at SUNY New Paltz this fall.

For Some, SCCC Gives a Second Chance

By Jeanne Sager
LOCH SHELDRAKE – June 1, 2007 — The first time Dianne Loomis had a chance at a bachelor’s degree, it slipped through her fingers.
She’s not taking that chance again.
Loomis was one of 223 graduates to walk out of the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse at Sullivan County Community College Saturday afternoon with an associate’s degree clenched tightly in her fist.
As hundreds of parents, friends and classmates ambushed the grads with hugs and kisses, Loomis flipped open the green binder to show her diploma to her biggest supporters – 11-year-old Russell and 9-year-old Trevor.
The single mom technically graduated from Sullivan in December with a 3.95 GPA. Saturday, Loomis drove back to Loch Sheldrake for her kids.
“My kids were so great through this,” Loomis explained. “There were a lot of nights they were at the baby-sitter’s. There were a lot of nights I brought books to the Little League games and did homework on the sidelines.”
But Loomis was still there.
Working as a unit secretary at Orange Regional Medical Center’s Arden Hill campus in Goshen by day, studying for her associate’s degree with a major in geographic informational systems by night, the Wurtsboro resident still made it to games.
She still signed up as a Cub Scout leader.
And she’s already enrolled in Empire State College, the State University of New York’s (SUNY) online degree program.
While working and mothering full time, Loomis has taken on a 14-credit courseload to cut down on the time it will take to earn a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies.
Now 40, Loomis said this is her second crack at college.
She earned an associate’s degree in music from Orange County Community College after high school, but never made use of it.
Twenty years later, she found herself working at the hospital, no bachelor’s degree and two children to raise.
“I want to set forth a good example for my boys,” she said. “A unit secretary is not a career where you can move forward, where you can raise two kids.
“I want to make things as good as possible for my boys,” Loomis said with a grin.
Sullivan took a few of her credits from her first go-round, and Loomis said she finished her associate’s in two and a half years.
She’s hoping to get the bachelor’s under her belt even faster.
“The first time, I let it slip through my fingers,” she said. “This time I won’t let it.”
Class speaker Steven Gomez, who Sullivan’s administration chose to symbolize the 1 millionth diploma handed out by SUNY’s community colleges this year, warned his classmates not to give up . . . on anything.
“Please keep in mind that victory doesn’t not always belong to those who come from well-known places,” he said during his impassioned keynote address, at times yelling into the mic. “Victory also belongs to the underdogs.
“History is filled with individuals coming from small places that have altered the future,” he added, “that have changed the world.
“Always remember that victory belongs to those who dare to act.”
The keynote speaker was Kim Hale, a 2001 graduate of SCCC who went on to become an Assistant Professor of Dance at Syracuse University.
Also attending were Assemblywoman Aileen Gunteer and Chris Cunningham, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature.

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