Getting to Know Simmons!

Profile of Dix Scholar Dianne Cullinane

Dianne has been dreaming of returning to school since she graduated from high school in 1981. Three decades later, she is living her dream at Simmons as a Dix Scholar.


Age: 47

Entered Simmons: Fall 2007

Major/minor: Major: Psychology
Minor: Studio Art

Month/Year of Graduation (anticipated): I am part-time so it is difficult to gauge, but I've recently found out that I'm a junior. At the rate that I'm going, it will be 2012 or early 2013.

Faculty Advisor: Professor Barbara Gentile, Psychology

Education prior to Simmons: I transferred 18 credits in from UMass, Boston.

Immediately Before Simmons: Actually, I went through a divorce and got my own apartment for the first time in my life. I decided to do something productive with my spare time!

Why I chose Simmons: Simmons is a great school and I was very attracted to the single sex education. It seemed to me that I would be getting a more serious education than going to a co-ed school. Additionally, I worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is physically located down the street and it was so convenient to attend classes during the day.

What I remember about the application process: I think that the application process for me was the hardest part! I hadn't been to school since I was 26 (1990), so getting the transcripts from other schools seemed tedious. Additionally, the Statement of Purpose felt like an ominous task. It really took a lot to tally up who I was and what my purpose was in a three-page writing assignment.

What I most feared about returning to school: I feared a lot of things about returning to school. Not connecting with students because of the age difference was a big one. Not keeping focused enough to continue through to the end was another big one. I was intimidated about the education itself and really just not feeling smart enough to be able to do the work.

What I like best about Simmons: I love the professors. Every single one of them that I've had has made such an impression on me. I love the students. I am continuously surprised by their intelligence, and their willingness to reach out to me, and to be able to support me even though I'm old enough to be their mom!

My support system while at Simmons: I have so many people in my life that support and encourage me every day. My life is full of people who love me.

My experience in the Credit for Prior Learning Program: This was a pretty interesting seminar. It was quite daunting, again, to sum up your life in a brochure or a booklet and then to ask for credit for your life. I don't think that it is easy for anyone to tally up all you've done, and then try to put a price on it. It is quite a difficult task.

Biggest surprise: That I am a lot more capable, effective and smarter than I've ever given myself credit for.

Biggest challenge: Juggling a professional life while being a student part time, while still trying to keep relationships active in my life, and occasionally going to dinner and having a glass wine!

Best class: My first drawing class. I understood the potential, not only to be an artist, but to excel in anything that I put my mind to. Working a lot of issues out on canvas has its similarities to working out a lot of issues in life. You really just keep at it until something feels right again. Nothing is perfect, and sometimes it is the mistakes you make in life that turn out to be beautiful.

Most Powerful Simmons Experience: The first time a student wrote to me to let me know that she thought that I was inspirational. I didn't think anyone gave me a second thought - and then I received such a beautiful email from a fellow student that I highly respected who told me that I was an inspiration to her. I felt the power of understanding that I have an impact on these students just as much as they do me.

Something that I accomplished at Simmons: The Credit for Prior Learning portfolio. When I started out in that class, I never saw myself putting together a binder of items that would help me gain college credit. It is another one of those moments that I really took stock of my own self, and it felt so good. It made me feel that if I could accomplish that, I could do anything I set my mind to.

What's next? The sky is the limit! I definitely want to complete my masters in the Simmons School of Social Work after completing my bachelors here, and I want to be gainfully employed as a therapist helping people be the best they can be and to understand their full potential. I want to give back to Simmons College by way of being able to help students, especially Dix Scholars, understand that they're aging anyway, so why not just go for it? Get that degree. Live their dream. I've been dreaming about going back to school since I graduated high school in 1981, and I'm finally living my dream. In fact, I'm saturated in it.