Contact: Allison Benner, College Relations Associate – Media, 610-740-3790

UNDER A CAP, WRINKLES LOOK GREAT At 61, Cedar Crest Grad Will Have Three Generations Present as She Receives Diploma

Allentown, PA (May 13, 2005) – When Geraldine “Gerry” Dougherty walks across the stage to accept her diploma at Saturday’s Commencement ceremony, she will have a cheering section three generations deep waiting to congratulate her. “My daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter, who have supported me so much through this experience, are just as excited as I am,” says Gerry. Dougherty will receive a bachelor of science in psychology at Cedar Crest College’s 135th Commencement on Saturday, May 14, 2005.

At 61, Gerry, who resides in Bethlehem, is the first person in her family to obtain a bachelor’s degree. “I grew up in a blue-collar family of six where the focus wasn’t on education after high school. But as I grew older I realized that I could be a mother and have a career.” It was while working in Seattle at a substance-abuse recovery center that Gerry was encouraged by her colleagues to become a certified counselor. At the time, a bachelor’s degree wasn’t necessary to be a counselor. Gerry eventually moved back to the Lehigh Valley and, as she furthered her career in the field, she realized that she was supervising employees that had not only bachelor’s but also master’s degrees. “Even though I didn’t have to do it, it was at that point that I said to myself, ‘I gotta get it.’”

Gerry came to Cedar Crest College in 2000 with the goal of graduating by the time she was 60. Unfortunately, the illness and subsequent passing of her two sisters put that goal on hold for a year. “I wanted to spend time with them and take care of them,” says Gerry. “Just two months before she died one of my sisters, a huge supporter of my goal, told me it was time to get back to it. So I did.”

For Gerry, one of the most exciting things about her time at Cedar Crest, she says, was the feeling of really being a part of the College community. “I was always the oldest person in every class. But no matter what, I never felt a generation gap. My classmates and I were always there to laugh with each other and support each other.”

“Gerry was so determined to graduate,” says Dr. Kerrie Baker, assistant professor of psychology and Gerry’s advisor. “She has worked extremely hard and is very proud of her accomplishment, as she should be. She did it!”

Now that graduation is finally here, the excitement of her achievement has overshadowed any disappointment in the extra year it took to reach her goal. “The age doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was able to accomplish what I set out to do,” says Gerry. “When I tried on my cap and gown in preparation for the ceremony, I just couldn’t wait to tell everyone that under a cap, wrinkles look great.”



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