tampabay.com

Mom's dream gets boost from son

He scaled back in college to help her graduate.

By TOM MARSHALL
Published May 1, 2007


NEW PORT RICHEY - There are 600 students earning degrees or certificates tonight at Pasco-Hernando Community College, and each is a study in perseverance.

But for sheer stick-to-it grit, no grad can match 48-year-old Margaret Wermann of Spring Hill.

She was a teenager in New York when she decided she wanted to become a nurse.

"I enrolled in nursing school up there and started chipping away on the prerequisites, " she recalled.

Then life happened.

First, at the age of 24, she fell in love and got married. Her son, Louis, was born a year later in June of 1984.

Then her parents got sick and needed care, and her husband was diagnosed with diabetes. She took a course when she could, but felt her dream receding into the distance.

"Life gets in the way, " Wermann said. "My parents got older, my dad was sick. I put my degree on hold."

Fast-forward to 2003, when the family moved to Spring Hill for her husband's health. She was close enough to PHCC to enroll in the licensed practical nursing program, and earned a degree two years later - not all the way to her goal, but closer.

Four months later, her husband passed away. Despair and hope mingled; she was the sole breadwinner now, but had time to enter the college's registered nursing program. God moves in mysterious ways, she said.

Money got tight. That's when Louis, by this time also a PHCC student, stepped up.

"He went from being a full-time student to a part-time student and took a job at the learning lab, to help me get through school, " Wermann said.

It was the final boost she needed. With help from "awesome" teachers and an inner fire that wouldn't go out, she earned her final credits. Only a tough national exam stands in her way now.

So when Mom crosses the stage tonight to receive her associate's degree, Louis will be in the audience with a camera, the proud son. Neither sees anything odd in the role reversal.

"I'm just so proud of her, " he said. "She's taught me that in education, you're never too old.

"That's what I feel like. I'm the proud parent. I gloat about her all the time at work."

She sends the love right back.

"Me and my son went through a lot together, " Wermann said. "We're best buddies. He's been my support, I've been his support - and we made it."

Give a little credit to that dream, too: the dream that refused to be silent, year after year, every time it got deferred.

"I just had a twinge in my heart, every time I thought about it, " Wermann said. "For the first time I feel settled, right from my head down to my heart. It's a great feeling."

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.

Fast Facts:

 

PHCC graduates

Graduates are expected to cross the stage for degrees and certificates tonight at 6 in the Jim Valentine Athletic Complex of River Ridge High School in New Port Richey. The ceremony is open to the public.

The PHCC Nursing School will recognize graduates and mark its 30th anniversary in a separate ceremony today at 2 p.m. in the campus performing arts center.