Pretty soon, Brown got serious about finding the right degree program. “I was searching for colleges on the computer one day and a Rutgers–Camden open house at Atlantic Cape showed up,” Brown recalls. It was 2006 and Rutgers had just launched Rutgers at Atlantic Cape Community College to address the dearth of four-year higher education programs in the region. Brown enrolled as one of its first students.
Brown says most of her classmates were younger. “They were returning students; most worked. They were amused when they saw me in class. They’d do a double take: ‘Whose grandma is this?’ In most classes, you introduce yourself and share your journey. Everyone was very accepting of mine.”
Through her coursework, Brown learned she “could write, research, compose, and organize a rational paper” on everything from nanotechnology to Southeast Asian geography. Her toughest course? “Algebra. It was terrible. I agonized.” In the process, Brown became a role model for her four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. “My oldest great-granddaughter was in grade school, having some early algebra. We used to talk about algebra, especially tests. ‘How did you do?’ I’d say. ‘I thought I made it through,’ she’d say. And I’d say, ‘I did, too.’ ”
Having reached her goal of earning a bachelor’s degree through the convenience of Rutgers at Atlantic Cape Community College, Brown, without a doubt, will keep making it through and keep learning. “I’ve always been interested in science and world events. I want to relate to all things going on in the world. School has opened my eyes.”