Meet our Student
Denise Nealon hadn’t been to school in more than 20 years. But laid off from her job as an accountant and with her marriage suddenly over, Nealon decided it was time to return.
She enrolled at MiraCosta College intent on securing the kind of education that could help get her back into the workplace. On May 17, Nealon graduates with an associate of arts degree in sociology and plans to transfer to Cal State San Marcos en route to embarking on a new career as a marriage and family therapist.
“I don’t know if getting my bachelor’s degree will be as rewarding as this,” Nealon said. “I’ve completed something that I never thought was possible. College was something I never thought I was smart enough to do.”
Shortly after she enrolled at MiraCosta College two years ago, however, Nealon found she had all the support and counseling she needed. “They were with me every step of the way.”
Nealon, 42, was going to school while working part time at MiraCosta College as a teacher’s assistant and raising three daughters, 16, 13 and 11, all of whom are straight-A students. Nealon said she would like to think that her decision to go back to school while dealing with personal crises has helped motivated her daughters.
“I think seeing me work hard and going back to college inspired them,” she said.
Nealon hasn’t been too shabby of a student herself. She made the President’s List in the spring of 2012, she is earning a 4.0 grade point average in her final semester, and she will graduate with a 3.2 overall GPA. Soroptimist of Fallbrook recently honored her with its Women’s Opportunity Award of $575. According to the Soroptimist website, the Women’s Opportunity Awards program assists women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.
Nealon credits MiraCosta College with helping her turn her life around after the end of a troubled marriage and losing her job. While she found support at every turn, Nealon said instructors were demanding and didn’t hold back.
“Professors at MiraCosta College are amazing,” she said. “When you have problems at the college, they work with you to overcome them.”