More than 800 students at Schenectady County Community College will get their diplomas Thursday, including one woman whose journey is nothing short of extraordinary. Charlotte Palmeri first began her schooling more than two decades ago. After raising her kids, she returned, only to be faced with a different obstacle - a breast cancer diagnosis. But what may have been a determent for some couldn't stop Palmeri from completing the goal she set out to achieve. Our Maria Valvanis has her story.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- "If you're a musician you know there's always, always more, always more to be learned," said Charlotte Palmeri.
She's been a church organist choir director since she was in high school and has given piano lessons to more than 300 students. But while Charlotte Palmeri was busy giving to others, she didn't have the time to do something she had always wanted to for herself.
"I started looking into this whole Schenectady County Community College music program back in the fall of 87," she said.
Charlotte completed two semesters, but a mom to four children, she decided to put her own goals on hold. It wasn't until the Fall of 2011, she stepped foot in the school again. But Charlotte would soon be faced with a different obstacle.
"I'm going through chemotherapy right now, and that slowed me down. In fact, just getting through the school alone, and forgive me I'm getting emotional, it's hard," she said.
"When did you first get diagnosed?" our reporter asked.
"January," said Charlotte.
Charlotte's last semester.
"I had just started in and so I thought, I don't know what's around the corner, and I didn't know if it was wise to continue on," she said.
But with the finish line so close and her number one cheerleader by her side, Charlotte did the unimaginable.
"All these tubes out of her arm, out of her nose out of her side, and she's sitting there with the laptop, researching, doing her homework," said Frank Palmeri, Charlotte's husband.
A mastectomy, chemo treatments, and of course, lots of school work later, Charlotte will get her diploma Thursday.
"What have you learned from all this," our reporter asked Charlotte.
"That you can do it, you can do it," said Charlotte.
Frank said, "When you go to a graduation, they always say, please save your applause to the end. I might get thrown out."
Charlotte says she's most excited for her chemo therapy to be over, so she can get back to doing the things she's put on hold - teaching, playing at the church, and perhaps her favorite hobby, riding her motorcycle, because this soon-to-be college graduate knows, anything is possible.
She said, "I'm looking forward to seeing which direction I go now, because obviously it was something that I put my sights on as a goal, it's been accomplished, and then it's just a matter now how I use what I learned, and that's going to be the exciting part."