When Sastra Mcginley left a decade-long career to attend college, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study. She only knew that she wanted to make the world a better place. Now, 10 years after her educational journey began, Mcginley is graduating from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in environmental studies and a new-found passion for helping the planet.
Graduating high school in 1993, Mcginley was in and out of community college before moving to south Lake Tahoe and eventually becoming a casino dealer. However, she began to realize her career path no longer fulfilled how she wanted to live her life. “I realized I want everything I do with my time here to embody my ideals and what I believe in, to leave a better mark rather than help people waste their money,” said Mcginley.
A native of Sonoma County, Mcginley chose to attend classes at Santa Rosa Junior College in 2010 to get back into the swing of becoming a student, but she credits an episode of Oprah for being the final push she needed to become a full-time student at a four-year university. “Bette Midler was in her 60s and had just got her degree,” said Mcginley. “And I remember her saying, ‘If you have that feeling that you want to go to school, it’s never going to go away, so just do it while you can still utilize it.’” Deciding to attend Sonoma State, Mcginley is not the only member of her family to return to college as an adult, as her first semester was also the last for her mother who graduated with a B.A. in English the same year. She will be wearing her mother’s graduation gown during commencement. "We've come full circle," she said.
Mcginley, the mother of a 3-year-old boy, fully embraced her time at Sonoma State, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She credits the university’s Children School for helping her to reach her goal. “For other people considering if they can make it back to school, the resources at Sonoma State are pretty incredible,” said Mcginley.
While Mcginley admits she is just as nervous about life after graduation as someone in her 20s, she credits Sonoma State with giving her confidence in her abilities. “We are wondering if we are going to fly or fall, but ultimately we all fly,” she said.