2015 BSHort - Terry Cinque: A Horticulture Odyssey

2015 BSHort - Terry Cinque: A Horticulture Odyssey

John Lennon famously sang “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Terry Cinque is living proof. In January, Cinque completed a 16-year journey that has culminated in an Associate’s degree in Horticulture.

While it’s been an epic quest that would make Odysseus envious, Cinque’s answer to the question “Why so long?” is quite simple — “Family first.”

“I had been working full-time as a radiologic technologist for more than 25 years at Nazareth Hospital and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. When my kids were born, I began working part-time so when one went off to school and then the other to pre-school, I was looking for something to do,” said Cinque, 54 of Abington. “I had a lifelong interest in horticulture and gardening, so I decided to give Fundamentals of Horticulture a try in 1997 and fell in love with the (Ambler) campus. As luck would have it, that first class served as an eye-opening introduction to formal education in a subject that fascinated me.”

Cinque said when she started taking courses she didn’t have a specific goal in mind beyond giving herself skills to possibly pursue alternative career options.

“I took classes that I could apply to things that I liked to do and I took them whenever I could fit them with my kids’ schedules — swimming, after-school programs, ‘mom’ duties,’” she said. “My children were always my first priority but as they moved on to high school and then college, I was able to take more classes.”

Cinque took enough classes to complete the Landscape Plants certificate program and followed that up with a Horticultural Therapy certificate, “then I realized I wasn’t that far from my Associate’s degree in Horticulture.” She hunkered down for the last two and a half years to reach the finish line.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college right out of high school — with family and financial situations, it just wasn’t in the cards,” she said. “When I went back to college, I made a bet with my son that I’d earn a degree before he did. I just beat him — he graduates this month.”

Cinque completed her program with a 4.0 grade point average, something she is very proud of.

“I can’t do anything less than full effort. I try to use that as an incentive for my kids — when semester grades come in, they’ll say ‘Let me guess, another A.’ I know they’re proud of me,” she said.  “I think if anything, it’s made me more sympathetic to what my son and daughter go through. I know what I went through taking one or two classes at a time; they are taking four or five!”

For many adult learners, returning to the classroom and juggling home and work responsibilities would have been enough plates to keep spinning. Not for Cinque, however.

A dedicated volunteer in her own community, she devoted what time she had to the betterment of the campus community as an officer and student government representative for Pi Alpha Xi, the honors society for horticulture majors; joining the Ambler Campus Program Board; taking on the John Paul Endicott Summer Internship in the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University; and participating in any number of campus events, from semi-formals to Sustainability Action Days.

“I was an active community volunteer for many years, particularly associated to my children’s recreational and school activities. For the last few years, I’ve shifted my efforts to my own school activities,” she said. “I’ve always felt that if you have the ability to do something, you should do it. By becoming involved on campus, I’ve made a lot of valuable connections and lifelong friendships.”

If history is any indicator, Cinque’s journey still isn’t over.

“These past 16 years have repeatedly fed my curiosity and expanded my knowledge of botany, plant ecology, herbaceous and wood plants, entomology, plant propagation and food crops,” she said. “I know I’ll be coming back for one class to complete theSustainable Food Systems certificate. My ultimate goal is to work with a youth horticultural education program.”

Cinque, however, is non-committal as to whether a bachelor’s degree — or something further up the scale — is in her future.

“I know I’m going to be continuing my community involvement and volunteer projects while applying the knowledge I’ve gained through my coursework,” she said. “Beyond that, it’s a little up in the air.”

Take that as a definite “maybe.”

Article Written by Jim Duffy, MSEd Public Relations and Website Coordinator.  Temple University Ambler Administration Building 

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