EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 21, 2013

Methuen, Sandown women prove you're never too old

SALEM, N.H. — When Sharon Black of Methuen dons her cap and gown this morning, it won’t be for the first time.

It also won’t be the first time Barbara Kelly of Sandown celebrates her commencement.

The two women, both in their 50s, have done something many people their age wouldn’t dare try. That’s because they don’t have the time, energy or dedication.

They went back to college after being out of school for two or three decades. Now, they are studying for their law degrees.

Black — a Methuen mother of three — and Kelly, a Sandown mother of four raising three grandchildren, graduate today from the American College of History & Legal Studies.

They are among nine graduates receiving their diplomas during a ceremony at the Black Water Grill. State Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, is the guest speaker.

“It’s very exciting,” Black, 55, said earlier this week. “I can’t believe I actually made it.”

Black attributes her success to her faith and hard work.

Kelly, 56, is equally enthused.

“I’m just very excited,” she said.

At a time when many people their age are beginning to count down the years to retirement, Black and Kelly are determined to prove they can accept the challenge. Nothing is holding them back.

“When you really want to do something, you just do it,” said Kelly, a former medical assistant who wants to specialize in family mediation.

Kelly, who received her associate’s degree from Fisher College in the 1990s, has been out of the workforce for years after raising her children and now her grandchildren.

She considered resuming her career as a medical assistant, but decided to try law.

Black worked as an administrative assistant for a real estate appraisal firm for 25 years until she was laid off in 2009. She has done other work since, but as the mother of two dyslexic sons, her main focus is their welfare and serving as a special needs advocate.

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