Christine Hallman Reminds Others It’s Never too Late to Go Back to School

Christine Hallman poses for her Commencement photo

Christine Hallman '17 set a goal–a four-year college degree. As an adult student, she started with just one class at a time, juggling a job and family responsibilities with her new academic requirements. Each semester her confidence and her courseload grew, and in May, she walked across the stage as a Lebanon Valley College graduate. Hallman, now in her early 50s, previously attended Harrisburg Area Community College before earning degrees in religion and sociology at The Valley.

When it came time for choosing a school at which to enroll, LVC appealed to Hallman for a multitude of reasons, including the quality education, dedicated faculty, location, and ease of transferability for her courses from HACC.

As she settled into her religion major, she knew she made the right choice and points to two immersive experiences as some of her best memories. She participated in the department’s year-long symposium course which this year focused on the Apostle Paul and a book authored by B.B. Scott. Although challenging, she persevered and found success. 

“To meet with Professor Scott over lunch, participate in the symposium, and then get feedback on my paper from the author was a unique experience that I will always remember,” she said.

In addition to the symposium, Hallman joined three other students and Dr. Matt Sayers, associate professor of religion, for an internship that included a visit to the Reading Public Museum. The group, which also included Dr. Barbara McNulty, director of the College’s Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, researched and planned an exhibit of artifacts representing five religious faiths.

“While at the museum, we were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at numerous religious artifacts, such as illuminated manuscripts, figurines, and the most beautiful palm leaf manuscripts. That was a memorable experience that I will cherish as one of the highlights of my time at LVC,” said Hallman.

Hallman will see the fruits of her labor this upcoming year when the exhibit, Sacred: Image, Text, Ritual Exhibition, opens at the Gallery.

Through each of these experiences, other students treated Hallman as any other student, despite the difference in age.

“In the classroom, a student is a student, regardless of age,” she said. “Perhaps that is due, in part, to LVC’s commitment to teach about inclusive excellence and diversity. Once the instructor starts teaching, one must simply take in the new knowledge, do the required work, and finish the semester a little more prepared for the challenges of life.”

Although her classmates treated her as any other student, Hallman viewed her college experience through a different lens than a traditional student, having lived through major life events both positive and devastating.

“I have realized that the people and things I love can be lost in a heartbeat,” said Hallman. “As a result, I have learned not to take anything for granted. As tough as some semesters were, I constantly reminded myself, it is a privilege to be at LVC.

“That’s what kept me going, always working hard and giving 100% to complete assignments, while at the same time making the most of every opportunity to get involved in so many other LVC activities both on and off campus,” she said.

Hallman continues to encourage other adults who are considering a college degree and said she is proof that it is possible. Starting one class at a time and gradually adding more to her schedule, Hallman used encouragement from professors and support from staff such as those in our financial aid office. She also credits her family.

“Despite planning ahead, there were times when assignments came due and I just had to buckle down and do them,” she said. “This involved sacrificing fun activities sometimes, as well as losing a little sleep occasionally. It helped to have understanding family members who were willing to pitch in and do more around the house to allow mom to study.”

Next on Hallman’s list of goals is to find a job in ministry where she can serve people and said, “The reality is, the college experience is much like a journey in which one simply must take one step at a time. In the process of earning my religion and sociology degrees, I have been equipped with increased confidence, increased knowledge, the ability to communicate well verbally and in writing, as well as an openness to diversity in people.”