Commencement 2012: Graduate Translates Layoff into Future Success

When the door closed on Cindy Good’s job as a clothing inspector, she could not have seen it, but a door of opportunity was actually opening for her.

Good, with Marion Ward at Grafton Library

Good will graduate from Mary Baldwin College on May 20 with a bachelor’s degree in history, a minor in education, and a license to teach elementary school. And none of it would have been possible without a twist of fate six years ago.

“Everybody was scared,” Good said, remembering the day she and dozens of others were laid off from a Wrangler Jeans plant in Luray. “We were all thinking, ‘what are we going to do?'”

After the Wrangler plant had shipped jobs overseas in 2006, Good considered finding another factory job. It would have meant working the second or third shift or having a long commute. It would have meant more years of hard piecework for the then 42-year-old single mother.

But because Good qualified for a community college subsidy through the federal Trade Act, she considered going back to school.

“I had always worked in a factory,” Good recalled. ” I said, ‘I’m just going to try something different.’ When you work in a factory, you’re hard at it all day. I had the chance to get out of it. It was my chance. So I had to give it a try.”

Soon, Good was a student again, taking classes at Lord Fairfax Community College, which coincidentally was housed in the former cutting and sewing section of that Wrangler plant. Eventually, she earned her associate’s degree in accounting. Numbers weren’t her passion, so she pushed through one more year of general education classes so that she could transfer to Mary Baldwin and pursue a history degree.

For the past few years, Good has applied for financial aid, attended class, taken out loans, studied for exams, raised a young son, and worked as a substitute teacher. She has developed a love of local history that prompted her to explore the resettlement of people for the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway 75 years ago.

Her story is one that highlights MBC’s Adult Degree Program, and its strength in offering a personalized, flexible education to working adults.

“Cindy is a strong woman who was able to grow in developing and recognizing her intellectual gifts through hard work and careful planning,” said Marion Ward, director of the MBC Center at Blue Ridge Community College. (Pictured, above, at Grafton library meeting with Good.) “I feel honored to have been a part of her story. It’s students like this who inspire me to do this work.”


Morgan Alberts Smith '99 is the web producer and social media manager for MBC's Office of Communication, Marketing, and Public Affairs.