For Linda Watson, graduation from Montgomery County Community College in May, is the most recent in a long line of accomplishments.
“I’ve met all my goals that I set for myself,” said the 47-year-old Phoenixville resident, who is formerly of West Norriton. “I’ve retired from the Army, I’ve met my education requirements for graduation, I passed the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Personal Trainer exam, and I even got hired by my local YMCA to be a youth trainer while interning with them. I couldn’t be happier. Things are going very well for me!”
Watson will graduate with an Associate in Applied Science degree in the Health & Fitness Professional program. The course of study helped her prepare for the ACSM Certified Personal Trainer exam, she said.
Watson entered the Army in 1986. She served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990, in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004, and supported the post-Hurricane Katrina relief effort in Louisiana.
“My occupational field was primarily personnel and administration, and I also served about eight years in recruiting,” she said. “In 2008, I decided to retire after 22-plus years of service and am now enjoying civilian life.”
The maturity she gained over the years and in the service gave her extra motivation to excel at school.
“When I initially attended college in 1983, I was 18 and fresh out of high school. I think I was only doing what all my friends were doing and didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life,” she explained. “I certainly did not take college seriously and just scraped by with grades.
“I think having been in the military also helped me to be more focused. I knew I had to commit myself to sitting in the front of the class, paying attention, taking notes, and doing the work, studying and homework,” she continued.
And although she had some reservations about returning to school so late in life, the Post 9/11 GI Bill was too good an opportunity to pass up, she said.
“Affordability was everything. I doubt I would’ve returned to college if I had to pay for it on my own. MCCC was affordable, and I was fortunate to have the funding available to me. I owe my degree to all those who made it financially possible to do so,” she said.
In addition to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Watson received grant money through the Veteran’s Consortium and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and a $500 Health Professional Scholarship.
It also helped to know she wasn’t alone.
“I was happy to see that there were so many other veterans and nontraditional-students [at Montgomery County Community College],” she said. “I was somewhat surprised to have 20-something-year-olds as peers, but I think having a common interest in fitness really helped to bridge the gap in age.”
Watson added, “I don’t know how students manage to work and go to school, so I have the utmost respect for them.”
~ by Neree Aron-Sando