Rosetta Lattimore, BA ’79
How one woman’s passion for education inspired others to transform their lives.
Rosetta Norwood Lattimore promised herself she would finish her degree. Little did she know that promise would turn into a lifetime of teaching others to do the same.
Lattimore has spent her life instilling in others the importance of education and her motivation has inspired many students. Having served as a public school teacher, she knew her work educating others was not over once she retired. Lattimore continued her educational path, working at an adult education center close to her home, assisting adults in the process of earning their high school diploma through the General Educational Development (GED) test.
It was at the center where Lattimore was first introduced to the University.
“A friend of mine there told me about Thomas Edison State University. I looked into the University’s programs and saw that I was able to transfer my credits and complete my bachelor’s degree,” she noted.
The transfer credit option the University offers was a huge convenience for Lattimore who was just one year shy of completing her bachelor’s degree at Shaw University in North Carolina. In 1979, she finished what she had started by earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Natural Sciences from the University.
“TESU offers a great opportunity for people who have not completed their education to finish it anyway,” she noted. “I encourage my family and friends to go back and complete their education all the time.”
Lattimore sees her passion for education and joy of assisting others in their own personal educational journeys as the prime motivation toward earning her degree.
When she first started her teaching career, Lattimore began in the Plainfield School District as a substitute teacher. She knew she needed to bring her career full circle and earn her teaching certification and degree in order to eventually teach in her own classroom. Lattimore knew this would allow her to bring in additional income, benefits, and the ability to share her knowledge with the students she was teaching by setting a positive example for them to follow.
During the next 29 years, Lattimore was able to enrich the lives and minds of her students before retiring from the Plainfield School District, as a full-time teacher, in 1996.
Her experience at the adult learning center offered her the chance to take a glimpse inside the life of an adult making a positive educational change in their life and working hard to turn things around.
“Here are adults who have not finished high school, whatever the reason may be. Whether it was ‘the gym teacher made me mad’, or ‘I got too frustrated with math class,’ we heard it all. “Now they realize they can get their diploma and continue. I meet young people, to this day, that remember me and the learning center. They all have gone on to do remarkable things,” she recalled.
She was eager to be a part of their lives and journey, just as much as they were to have her there to help them. These adults were there to improve their lives, get better jobs, more exposure and take their first steps toward reaching success. “I believe in the power that education has to transform lives. Working with adults, as an adult, to help them earn their GED was the most gratifying position I’ve ever held,” explained Lattimore.
With her days in the classroom behind her, Lattimore finds time to do things for herself these days. At 84, she is involved with numerous women’s groups, loves to travel and cruise, and enjoys reading fictional historical novels.
She has the support of her widespread family behind her. Lattimore was married to the late Everett C. Lattimore who is noted as the first African American mayor of Plainfield, N.J. Together, the couple raised seven children. Lattimore now finds herself with 15 grandchildren and six great grandchildren, which makes for prodigious family reunions. “All the more fun having everyone in one place,” she expressed. “We’re scattered across the country, so we don’t see each other regularly, but I am just so very proud of them all.”
Lattimore currently resides in northeastern New Jersey.