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Four grandmothers graduate from Johnston Community College

Posted May 17, 2010

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— When the Eaton Corporation in Selma closed three years ago, hundreds of workers had to find new jobs. Many of those suddenly out of work were 50-plus grandmothers with only a high school education.

“When I came in that day, and they said, 'we was going to close,' my heart fell,” 52-year-old graduate Delzora Atkinson said.

Atkinson and some of her former coworkers enrolled at Johnston Community College.

“After the first six weeks I was here, I left in the parking lot crying my eyes out, (thinking) I just can't do this,” 59-year-old graduate Bonnie Adams said.

Adams said with Eaton moving its manufacturing facility to Mexico, finding a new job in the area wasn't going to be easy.  She and three other grandmothers took to the books to learn the skills needed to compete in today's workforce.

“When I came here (community college) everybody was so young. I would look at myself and say, 'What am I doing here?'” 62-year-old graduate Sue Tyner said.

But each woman met their challenge head on, taking heavy class loads and finally receiving their associate degrees Monday. It took courage and plenty of support, they said.

“I had a lot of family support, with my husband, my girls, my family and the Lord up above,” 55-year-old graduate Eleanor Peedin said.

The graduates overcame their fears to become the first in their families to receive a college degree.

“I came in as a dislocated worker, but I'm going out as a college graduate, going to reach my career. Not a job, but my career,”  Atkinson said.

“I am just elated. I could stand on the rooftop and shout. I am just so proud,” Adams said.

The four grandmothers, as they call themselves, are trained in office management and computers. They were among nearly 20 former Eaton employees to graduate Monday.


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  • wildcat May 18, 2010


  • ghimmy51 May 18, 2010

    I want to know when we're going to STOP companies from laying off Americans and moving jobs to countries with cheaper labor with no benefits. It's unpatriotic, unneighborly and the ultimate in GREED. If you check corporate profits you'll find they're at an all-time high, yet Americans are hurting ... losing homes, educations for their kids and futures. There must be LAWS or tariffs to stop this. If the government won't give us JUSTICE we may need to go find it ourselves.

  • LuvMyLife May 18, 2010

    While I am not yet a "displaced" worker, I too am a grandmother that will graduate Sunday with 2 associates degrees from Wake Tech. I plan on continuing in the fall to work on a Bachelors and found out yesterday there is a masters program in my field of interest. Don't ever think it's too late to go to school. Very proud of all of the grandma and grandpa graduates out there. Congrats to you all.

  • nanapam55 May 18, 2010

    I graduated last night from JCC and I also worked with Eaton Corporation for 26 years. I finished my paralegal training in December and I have already landed my dream job. I am 55 years old and am doing what I have wanted to do my wole life. My only regret is that I wasted so much time in a manufacturing plant.

  • BigUNCFan May 18, 2010

    I imagine trained in computers = some sort of data entry and or some basic knowledge of web browsers, Word, Excell and that type of thing.

  • BigUNCFan May 18, 2010

    Good to see the effort and hope that they get jobs as a result.

    I don't at all want to be contrarian here but could not help but notice the grammar from one of the earlier quotes about "we was". That is not a good sign and will need to be cleaned up for interviews just to be frank.

    With all of the people chasing limited jobs, it is tough out there. There are scientific doctorate level people laid off trying to get work and office management stuff is really going the way of the dinosour with automation. Also, to be frank, even though age discrimination is not supposed to exist, it does.

    Again, I hope that these ladies hard work pays off but I still see a big hill to climb all the same in terms of actually getting employment.

  • Conservative May 18, 2010

    COngratulations to all of four of you. You have demonstrated that when things happen that are out of our control, we need to adapt to it as rapidly as we can and take control of our lives. It is very easy to complain and indulge in self pity but you all chose to grab the bull by the horns and conquer the adversity. I hope your success serves as a motivation to others.

    Congratulations and wish you the best of continued success!

  • TomLynda May 18, 2010

    Well said oogum boogum.

    It's never, ever too late. My daughter got her BA last year at age 34. She said there were others in there ago 60 plus. Myself, I went back to school when I was 48. Glad I did.

  • Pseudonym May 18, 2010

    It's never too late. It's pathetic that Miley Cyrus and the girl from iCarly (whatever her name is) are held up as role models for young women in our culture, while ladies like these grandmothers and the 16 year old who sailed around the world will be quickly forgotten.

    Congratulations, ladies!

  • mklocklear May 18, 2010

    I attended the service last night to see my fiance graduate, and the shouts of "way to go mom!" and "go grandma!" were heartwarming. Congratulations!