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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Cheryl Gussman

Cheryl Gussman, returning student majoring in psychology, has plans to reach her higher-education goals. | The Quad – City College Campus | Sacramento, CA | Tuesday 04-30-2019 | Photo by Niko Panagopoulos | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

by Michael McDaniel | Guest Writer

The first day of a semester can be intimidating for anyone, let alone parents of students entering college. But what happens when the parent and the child are both headed to their first day of college at the same time? Then you may encounter a unique set of challenges.

For one City College student, returning to college has been just that, a learning experience not only about the coursework, but about herself. Cheryl Gussman, 56, enrolled in City College classes as a psychology major after not attending college for 30 years. Her son was a college sophomore at the time.

Gussman has an elegant, effortless poise. Fiery, long red locks atop her head,  tanned skin, and a bright, glistening smile. She describes her morning routine as “wake up, slap on a bunch of makeup.”

Yet her clothes are always chic, with perfectly placed accessories. Her laugh unmistakable, enough to shake the silence of any drab classroom. She, in a sea of students, stands out, not only for her style or her red hair, but her warm and welcoming demeanor.

“The classroom has changed so much since high school,” says Gussman, who has recently moved to Davis from her hometown of Los Angeles.

What has changed the most, she says, is her outlook on life. She spent 30 years working as a successful real estate agent in Los Angeles, while raising two sons. Prior to moving to Davis, she says she never would have returned to college if she had stayed in Los Angeles. She did, however, when she moved to Davis and her youngest son entered his sophomore year in college.

She never imagined she would be in college at the same time.

Gussman glances at one of the family photos resting on the pristine mantle above the fireplace in her Davis home. She moved because she was interested to see what living in Northern California would entail. And she moved here to support the career of her partner, John Bowes.

“Cheryl returning to college has been great,” Bowes says. “I feel it is important to support partners in life goals and be flexible, adjust my expectations to what will be likely to change throughout the week, heck, even the day.”

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Gussman says that when she went to college the first time when she was younger she could not focus. She had too much going on at that time. But she was grateful for real estate, which gave her an opportunity to support herself and provided an excellent source of income, compared to the other sales jobs she had held.

Now, engaging with students and learning more about their lives seems to be a strong suit of hers, even when the students seem to be reluctant to talk to one another. Gussman mentions how hard it is to get fellow students to talk, as many of them are so focused on their phones as soon as they enter classes.

“It’s so weird to me,” she says. “They don’t even talk to each other, and they are creating distance from each other.”

She says she “loves meeting all the different kids.” By kids, she means fellow students.

“It’s so inspiring to hear all of their different backgrounds, dreams and stories of what they want to do, and it takes you out of your bubble that you tend to be in,” she says.

Students appreciate Gussman’s interest in their lives.

“She is the nicest person in any of my classes,” says Juan Dela Cruz, who has class with Gussman. “She is always willing to talk and listen. She always has a smile on her face.”

Gussman, who is a psychology major, has been back in college for three semesters. For her, the greatest concern she had when returning to school was her memory. She mentioned she has to take longer to read and reread things for them to get absorbed into her memory banks.

Yet, she has always wanted to learn Spanish, and she has now completed the highest level of Spanish class available at City College. She even put her Spanish to use last summer on a trip to Spain.

Gussman, who says she never intended on getting an academic degree, now sees in her future a bachelor’s degree.

“Who knows?” she says. “Maybe even a master’s.”

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