Tompkins Cortland Community College

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Linda Pasto

Partners in possibilityLinda Pasto

Linda Pasto calls it "the ripple effect." Give yourself to others and see the incredible, unpredictably lovely results. "It changes your life in ways you can never anticipate."

She operates in what seems to be a constant state of giving: to her students, to her family, the College, the Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation, and even the needy in far away locales. At the moment she is organizing a clothing drive for children in Central America.

This comes after she helped organized a similar drive for Afghan children while her son was serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan. She also is a long-time supporter of the Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation - one of many staff and faculty members at the College whose involvement in student success goes far beyond daily work-related responsibilities.

She sees the results of her work every day in her students, in her family, and throughout the College. Even her office bears evidence to the charms of possibility: pictures of family and students, knick knacks from travels, bags of donated clothing.

Linda, a professor of nursing at Tompkins Cortland Community College, has made a life of service to others. It began in Oregon, where Linda grew up, when her mother set the first example: She took it upon herself to befriend a Turkish neighbor, welcoming the man into the family's home. Eventually, he would move to Canada, serving as a high-ranking official in the Canadian government, and Linda's family would move to Syracuse as her father took a position as Dean of the University's School of Management. But the lessons would continue. As her father served in various academic roles, including Provost of Northeastern University in Boston, her mother continued her own education, pursuing her passion for nursing and for helping others.

"Nursing is something she was very proud of - at least one member of every generation of her family has had a nurse. And she valued that education enough that she kept plugging and plugging along even while raising her family," Linda says. And she continued to help others while balancing the dual responsibilities of family life and academics.

"Even while she was studying, she was always involved in working with international students - she ran groups with international students practicing English skills, social skills, and coping with life in the United States. I knew how hard she worked, the sacrifice. She was studying and giving of herself the whole time I was growing up."

Linda eventually would combine her parents' passions, working as a nurse and teaching the nurses who fill the ranks of our area's hospitals and medical services offices. "I absolutely love my profession," she says. "I believe so deeply in educating the next generation."

She also has another, even deeper, perspective on the blessings in her life. "Five years ago I was in a coma, and it was a former student of mine who saved my life. It just further shows that every day is a beautiful day. Every day is a chance to make a difference."

"My husband and I say we are not wealthy, but we are rich in blessings, and our first priority is giving back."