Cedar Crest College senior and Tina O’Toole represents what an education for a strong mind can do. Elected president of the College Literary Club Preterite in the 2013-2014 school year, O’Toole has taken the club to new heights by leading the publication of Onyx, a collection of writing, and inviting members to special opportunities such as meetings with authors Gwyneth Lewis, Poet Laureate of Wales, and Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation. She is also president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, vice president of Delta Mu Delta, the business honor society, and revises student writing in the Writing Center.
O’Toole recounts her journey in the 2014 edition of Onyx: “I was a single mom with an abusive ex-husband, no life, no future, and I knew I was capable of more. A spark lit inside me, and it could not be turned off. In fact, each time I hit a wall, it grew stronger. I knew a writer lived inside of me waiting to be unleashed.” Previously from Wyoming, O’Toole moved to the Lehigh Valley with her second husband to be nearer to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia so that their daughter could receive the best possible treatment for a serious heart condition. After receiving three open heart surgeries, O’Toole pursued education to become a strong female role model for her daughter.
Caregiving and the role of advocacy, prominent themes in her life, have become intertwined in her writing. O’Toole is currently managing two WordPress blogs, titled “The Elephant in the Caregiving Room” and “Leading and Inspiring” and is working on three books. Cedar Crest is O’Toole’s second home, and has opened doors to opportunities which she has ambitiously grasped. These doors, O’Toole believes, open both ways: “You should not wait for others to open it because they may be waiting for you. This has helped me to take more risks and realize that opportunities are not just handed out.”
Doors continue to open; because of her involvement, accomplishments, and active goals, O’Toole was chosen to represent the college at the Unlocking Nonprofits Seminar in Washington D.C. this March, where she will meet top women advocates from all over the United States.
Located in Allentown, Pa., Cedar Crest College was selected as a “Top Regional College” and “Best Value” in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings for 2012, 2013 and 2014. The liberal arts college is committed to the education of women leaders in an increasingly global society. Founded in 1867, Cedar Crest currently enrolls approximately 1,500 students—full-time, part-time and graduate—in more than 30 fields of study.