Susan Hillman-Donnelly

Susan's Bucket List

Have you made a bucket list yet? If so, what’s on it?

Skydive? Bungee Jump? Run a Marathon? Backpack through Europe?

For Susan Hillman-Donnelly ’19, it’s to receive a college degree. In fact, it’s #1 on her list.

“Going to college was important to me because I’ve always told my kids to not have any ‘what ifs’ in life, but I was beginning to have them myself,” said Susan.

On Susan’s 60th birthday, with her husband’s encouragement, she applied to SUNY Corning Community College.

“Starting college at such an advanced age was a scary thing, and my contemporaries wanted to know why I was doing it,” said Susan. “Everyone kept saying ‘who cares if you never went to college,’ but I cared.”

Now, after almost four years, Susan is beginning to realize her dream. She is also realizing how much she’s learned during her time at SUNY CCC.

“The professors here take every opportunity to assist the non-traditional student, and challenge you to step out of your comfort zone,” said Susan. “I would have never thought to take a poetry class, or gender studies, but I can honestly say I’m a better person because of those experiences.”

According to SUNY CCC Professor Dr. Christine Atkins, Susan embodies the characteristics of an ideal student and true scholar.

“Susan deeply enriches every class she is a member of, and is someone who is utterly engaged with all course material, no matter the subject matter,” said Christine. “SUNY CCC and the world are better places because of students like Susan Hillman-Donnelly.”

Although she has mixed feelings about graduating, Susan is excited to begin crossing more items off of her bucket list.

“For me, graduating is going to be bittersweet. I am going to miss the feeling of satisfaction when a term paper is handed back to me with positive notes scribbled on it,” she said. “However, I am looking forward to traveling to Ireland and moving south. If I could just see a moose in the wild, my list would be complete.”

Before she moves south to Tennessee, Susan will cross the SUNY CCC stage to receive her degree. She will be 64 years old.