Maggie Pierce grew up in a household that valued education and encouraged her to earn good grades. But when she and her sisters earned college degrees, they were progressing down a path their parents had not trod.
That changes on May 5, when Maggie’s mother, Ruth Crippen, will cross the stage and earn her Business degree from Pellissippi State Community College.
“Neither of my parents had completed college,” Pierce said. “But they always expected our best when it came to education. We were encouraged to make straight A’s and study hard.”
That childhood emphasis seemed to have worked: Pierce and her two sisters have seven degrees among them. Pierce earned a Nursing degree from Pellissippi State in 2014, after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in a career field she decided wasn’t for her after all. Today, she works at Parkwest Medical Center.
Two years ago, her mother, Crippen, went through a divorce and then a lay-off. After a time of unsuccessful job searching, she decided it was time to earn a degree herself.
“This started out as a way for me to get a decent job to provide for my family,” Crippen said. “But now it’s a way for me to say, ‘I did this.’ I tell people it’s my 39-year-path to a degree. I get emotional talking about it.”
Crippen enrolled in an accelerated cohort program at Pellissippi State — which condenses classes into five-week terms, allowing a part-time student to still complete an associate degree in two years.
“I have had to work so hard and take this one semester at a time. I never would have been able to get this done without my daughters’ help,” Crippen said.
“We all respect my mother and her decision to go back to school, so much,” Pierce said. “But she’ll tell you that she’s just doing what she expected us to do. Seeing her succeed is priceless to us.”
Pierce and her siblings will be in the audience, cheering, as Crippen crosses the stage at Pellissippi State’s Commencement ceremony, 7 p.m., May 5, in Thompson-Boling Arena.
“I had the opportunity to go to college as a young person,” Crippen said. “But I announced I was getting married at the ripe old age of 19. At that time, I didn’t realize it was a mistake. But my whole life, I’ve tried to instill in my kids that they did not want to be like their dad and me. The priority was for them to make good grades.
“I never applied myself when I was young. This has a been a long, hard road, but I’m so proud. I’m so proud that I’ve kept a full-time job and done this cohort, and that I will graduate with a 3.4 GPA.”
For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at Commencement, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.