At 50+, returns to school

Kathleen Rutherford, pictured above, will graduate from Mercy College with a Master of Science degree on May 27. She graduated after a taking up her studies after a fourteen-year gap to retrain as a psychological counselor. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Rutherford

A rising tide of older adults are returning to school to complete degrees or upgrade their skills. Kathleen Rutherford, according to friends, is an example of how perseverance and hard work can help people of all ages accomplishes their goals.

Rutherford, of Castle Hill, went back to school at Mercy College’s Bronx campus after a 14-year gap in her studies. She spent many years working at as a secretary at Westchester Square Medical Center and seeing the need for clinical psychologists and social workers for young people.

“When my oldest son passed away, I figured that I could contribute to the young kids that are coming up right now,” said Rutherford, who is in her fifties. “We have so many kids standing on the street getting into drugs and alcohol, so I went back to graduate school to become a school and mental health counselor.”

Rutherford completed a dual-masters degree in mental health and school counseling, after receiving a B.A. from Lehman College in 1992. She is the mother of three sons, and the grandmother of three grandsons.

Her friends encouraged her in pursuit of her dreams, and she took up the challenge of continuing her education.

“Mercy’s schedule was really flexible, which was helpful,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford graduated in a ceremony for Mercy College’s graduate students at the Westchester County Center on May 27, along with hundreds of her classmates.

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