SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Heide Blackak had the dream of getting a degree when she decided to enroll at Springfield Technical Community College as a full-time student in her late 50s.
Two years later, at the age of 60, she’s got a degree and recognition as one of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s “29 Who Shine.” The award recognizes 29 outstanding student graduates from the Commonwealth’s public higher education system.
“I was really overwhelmed to be in that group of young people, but in the back of my mind I always thought I would love to finish school,” said Agawam resident Blackak, who will earn her degree in liberal arts/general studies with a 4.0-grade point average.
She said her sons supported her decision to enroll at STCC. “My grandchildren are more excited than anyone. They would say, oh, my gosh, you have a 4.0 or you won this award! It’s exciting to them, and they would look up and say, if she can do it, then I can do it,” said Blackak.
Blackak pursued her degree while working two full-time jobs, and cared for her mother, who was receiving cancer treatment. She also served as a STCC Student Ambassador and volunteered her time for a number of organizations, including hospice care and the American Red Cross.