Left to right: Dr. Kelly Noonan and Susan Edge-Simone

Susan Edge-Simone remembers how intimidated she was when she walked through the office doors of Rider University’s College of Continuing Studies. As a mother of three children – two of whom were college bound and one employed full-time – Edge-Simone was not your typical student.

Since moving from England to the United States 26 years ago, Edge-Simone had spent most of her adult life at home with her children. When her youngest son entered kindergarten, she started working part-time in the athletics department at Mercer County Community College where she pursued her associate degree in Liberal Arts. It took Edge-Simone nine years, but with a degree and a new position at the executive recruiting firm, Korn/Ferry International, she was ready to take the next step in her academic career.

Now a junior Psychology major and Gender and Sexuality Studies minor at Rider, Edge-Simone recalls how Karen Crowell, assistant dean of the College of Continuing Studies, provided her all the information and advice she needed to make a smooth transition at the University. That experience has enabled her to realize that she wants to help women in similar situations. In the future, as an adviser or counselor, she wants to assist women who want to go back to school.

“Eventually, I want to work in an area that helps women in different aspects of their life,” she said. “Sometimes it takes women a long time to realize their potential – especially my generation. I want to find a job where I really feel that I am making a difference.”

Edge-Simone has already made a difference in her classes on the Lawrenceville campus. In fact, Dr. Pearlie Mae Peters, professor of English, said Edge-Simone brings a wealth of knowledge from her experiences abroad and working in human resources to class discussions.

“She’s an ideal student for a professor because she is able to give back to conversations so you, as a professor, can grow and that’s remarkable in this day and age,” Peters said.

That’s why Peters nominated Edge-Simone for the Dr. Virginia J. Cyrus Scholarship, which was established in honor of the founding director of the Women’s Studies Program and recognizes students who show academic promise of excellence and show potential to improve the status of women through scholarship and/or activism. Edge-Simone was this year’s scholarship recipient and was honored during the annual Gender and Sexuality Studies Colloquium on April 8.

“I think Virginia Cyrus would have been very proud of her, particularly because she is a Continuing Studies student who is bright and writes well-crafted papers,” Peters said. “She is just as studious and conscientious as any day student.”

One of Edge-Simone’s sons, Aidan Thornley, is a junior history major at Rider. She also has a daughter, Laura, who works at Raritan Valley Community College and another son, Kyle, who is a psychology major at Chestnut Hill College.
Edge-Simone, who was “pleasantly surprised” to receive the scholarship, said the content addressed in Gender and Sexuality Studies courses resonates with women no matter what background they have.

“We do tend to all have the same troubles and problems,” she said. “I think sometimes we have to compete with each other but really we have to help each other wherever we can.”