Renee Ruggiero Says Learning Does Not Stop in Your 20s


Renee Ruggiero, graduate student and Assistant to the Dean, outside the Administration Building
Renee Ruggiero, graduate student and Assistant to the Dean, outside the Administration Building

My story is that I am a 43-year old, first-generation, non-traditional student who chose to earn my degrees later in life. I entered college out of high school; however, I was not in a place to fully appreciate the opportunities I was given and withdrew in the middle of my second year.

I moved to Boston and began my career at Wheelock College, where I remained until my husband and I became parents of triplets in 2002.  For five years, I was a stay-at-home mom and volunteered my “extra” time to a nonprofit support group for families of higher-order multiples living in New England. I was eventually elected president of the organization and led it until it was officially dissolved in 2016.

When my children entered preschool in 2007, I eagerly returned to Wheelock as an assistant to the dean, a position which I hold and enjoy today. Wheelock has been a part of my life for the past three decades and I honestly feel as though my family and I have all grown up here.  My favorite aspect of the Wheelock community is its sense of family. We genuinely care about each other and embrace a common mission of making the world a better place together.

Finishing my long-forgotten undergraduate degree was never on my mind, but an exciting new course at Wheelock changed all that in the spring of 2013. I registered for my first “travel learning” course as a non-matriculated student and loved the experience! It was so different (better and easier) to be a college student at age 40 than at 18!  The success I had in that one class led me to enroll as a full-time student in the American Studies program, from which I graduated, with honors, in May of 2016, and now, I’m a student in the Educational Studies master’s program.

I want to encourage all people to continue their secondary education journey beyond their twenties. In my own experience, the older you are, the better prepared you are to question, compare, challenge, support, and embrace new knowledge.

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