The first thing you need to know about Shane Dell is that she is determined.
Shane’s experience with college started over twenty years ago. Like so many of our students, she experienced a trying moment in her life and had to leave school. As a single mother of two boys, she had to go back to work full time. Finding work where she took care of the elderly and children in and out of foster care, Shane tried to be a mentor to other single parents, offering them advice from her personal and professional experience. She felt connected to this work that allowed her to help her community.
But trying times were not over for Shane. After gaining years of onthe- job experience, she was laid off. Her supervisor’s advice? “When you get the education, come back.”
And so Shane went back to school to get her degree, twenty years after she’d started it. At SFCC, she began her classes in social services and gerontology, electing a few addiction studies courses as well. She knew these courses would be important because of her job experiences. In fact, Shane said that her job experience was a significant source of help in her college education. She had a head start on the curriculum, but she also knew that this field, this career, would be a good fit for her. Many students wonder if their degree is the right fit for them, Shane said, but as a returning student with experience in the job market, she felt confident in her choice.
Shane focused on school, driving to her local library to use the Wi-Fi to complete her homework. Things weren’t easy, with homeschooling her sons and making the long drive to campus from Deer Park each day, but she was making the best of things. Then, suddenly, Shane became ill with a heart condition and leg injury that required hospitalization. None of that stopped Shane, though. She still made it to class every day.
It’s been a long journey, filled with trials, but also triumphs. As Shane prepared for graduation, she chatted about how she was proud of herself and her family. Both of her sons graduated high school with honors and one son married last summer. At 45 years old, she was graduating with a 4.0 in her classes, as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and with honor cords to wear at the ceremony. “It’s never too late to finish.” That’s her advice to all returning students thinking about the Community Colleges of Spokane. Her other piece of advice is to apply for scholarships through the Foundation. As she put it, the scholarships are the difference between attending classes and not completing the degree. As a recipient of the Numerica Heart of the Community Scholarship, Shane was able to get a laptop so that she could complete her schoolwork from anywhere, pay for the long drive to campus, and finish her degree.
What’s next for Shane?
She’s hoping to transfer to Whitworth University to get her bachelor’s in human services and then to find a job here in Spokane working with foster care children. She hopes to graduate with her BA the same spring that her son graduates from SFCC! In the meantime, she’s helping her community by running an informational community news page on Facebook called the Deer Park Dispatch/ Connect. This page offers free opportunities to the Deer Park community and shares local events and news. Shane said that she wanted to bridge the gap between her neighbors and the many resources available to them, and she wanted to remind the Deer Park residents that they have a strong community around them. That’s the other thing you’ll come to see in Shane: she cares about people. Whether they’re the single parents she met in her work, the other Deer Park residents, or her sons, she’s helping people build better lives for themselves.