This May Thornes Get to Blossom

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Published on April 1, 2016

In a quiet corner of the Beacon Hall lounge, Linda J. Thorne, 49, is halfway through a cold cut combo and three quarters of the way through her Accounting II homework. For Ms. Thorne, most breaks, even three-hour ones between classes, are spent multi-tasking. She’s learned to juggle, not bowling pins or flaming torches, but aspirations. For her the direction is specific, the dream is attainable, and the finish line is within view.

Though she may be handling a fairly new set of ambitions, meeting and surpassing goals is not a new practice for Thorne. “My dream is to be a CPA, but I married young, had kids and had to put them through school first, and now, here I am,” she said.

Three Generations of Thorne Women. Photo by the author.

Three Generations of Thorne Women. Photo by the author.

For years Thorne had only one goal and it was two-sided: get both of her daughters through college. A career in the accounting department of People’s Bank/RBS helped Ms.Thorne see her oldest daughter, Ashley, graduate nursing school at UCONN, and her youngest daughter, Ariel, graduate Southern with a Bachelor’s degree in social work.

In 2014, after 27 years of loyal service, “They let me go.” Her job title and tasks were shipped overseas, rendering her a dislocated worker three years short of pension eligibility with no offer of a transfer and no more income. She was down, but not out.  

Part of Ms.Thorne’s separation process from RBS was to discuss her options with the Department of Labor. Job placement, workshops, and training programs, would be available but one phrase in particular caught her ear. “Go Back to Get Ahead” was a program designed to get Connecticut students back to school by paying for up to 3 classes to those that qualified.

Thorne realized what she now wanted and enrolled in this program along with a second program called TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance). This federal program provides benefits like income support, job training, and tuition payments to workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade.

With the assistance of Bernard Shea, Assistant Director of Admissions at HCC, and the financial aid programs, Thorne sketched an outline for the next chapter in her life. “Between Mr. Shea and TAA we got my tuition paid 100%,” she said.

After working hard to ensure the right opportunities for her daughters were provided, she decided, “Now it’s my turn.”

Since her return to college, Thorne has maintained High Honors and a 3.88 GPA while taking 5 classes each semester at HCC. She is registered to begin her Bachelor’s degree at Southern this summer, but right now she’s not looking too far past spring. In May, she is set to graduate from HCC with an Associate’s in Accounting at the very same time her youngest daughter Ariel will graduate from Fordham University with a Masters Degree in Social Work.

“I’m so excited that we will be sharing that experience together,” she says. Free time, when there is any, is spent at a library in Fairfield with her granddaughters Londyn and Lauryn. When reading to them she delights in the fact that she has helped to educate three generations of Thorne women.