Fredon woman celebrates finals with a haircut

Fredon woman celebrates finals with a haircut

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Submitted photo - Dianne Pearce, happy with her new, short  hairstyle, shows the 27 inches of hair cut off her head that she donated to Locks of Love. Submitted photo - Dianne Pearce, happy with her new, short hairstyle, shows the 27 inches of hair cut off her head that she donated to Locks of Love.
Submitted photo - Dianne Pearce’s hair had grown to about hip length as she continued her education, as seen in this photo taken July 22. Submitted photo - Dianne Pearce’s hair had grown to about hip length as she continued her education, as seen in this photo taken July 22.
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Herald Staff Report

FREDON — It’s taken eight years, but Dianne Pearce finally has her diploma and a haircut, and maybe someday will meet a child who will benefit from both.

Pearce, 50, began taking classes to work in a health profession eight years ago, and told herself then that she would not cut her hair until she finished her education.

“I had a reversal of fortune about 10 years ago when the office I was employed through split up and I took a hefty pay cut. As a divorced mom with two kids to support, I chose to discontinue the monthly haircuts and grew out the layers from my short hairstyle. This took a year or two and my hair was approximately shoulder length when I started back to school, 25 years after I graduated high school. I made a bet with myself that I would not significantly cut my hair until I finished my degree,” she said.

She was working multiple jobs to support herself and her children and her initial goal was a degree in nursing. She took two courses per semester, and applied twice to the nursing program at Sussex County Community College while taking prerequisite courses, but did not get accepted into the program.

However, she found a job at Morristown Medical Center in the Goryeb Children’s Hospital there in 2008. She worked in the Respiratory Center for Children as a medical assistant and learned about respiratory therapy, applied and was accepted into the respiratory therapy program at County College of Morris.

She had some rough times while pursuing her education, losing both her parents (her father to lung cancer and her mother to respiratory failure as a complication of breast cancer) within the past five years, and her fiance, Kevin Miller, who died suddenly in March, of septic shock from cellulitis infection.

Miller died when Pearce was in the midst of her next-to-last semester at CCM.

“When Kevin died, I almost quit. I had such difficulty learning the material that I almost left, but between my professors (John Rutkowski and Michele DaSilva), supportive classmates, friends and family — I made it to the finish line,” she said.

“I began while raising my two children as teenagers and they then joined me in the college education process. My son, Dan, beat me by a year and received his IT degree from Sussex County Community College last year. My daughter, Laura, continues to pursue her education at Richard Stockton State College in Pomona,” Pearce said.

Through the years, her hair continued to grow to about hip length. She had learned of Locks of Love, which donates hair to children who have suffered medical hair loss, and, last week, after passing her finals on Monday, she had 27 inches of hair cut off at Rumours II hair salon in Franklin on Wednesday, which she donated to Locks of Love.

She plans to go on to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management and would like to gain a master’s degree and teach later in life.

“I am 50 years old and still growing and learning. It can be done,” she said.

Her next step is to become certified and registered as a respiratory therapist. Pearce eventually wants to work in pediatrics.

“Maybe I will come across my hair again — on a little girl who needs it more than I do,” she said.

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