58-year-old college student, a Wonder Woman

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3 Reporter, brae@kesq.com
POSTED: 05:28 PM PDT Jul 08, 2012 

Wonder Woman is a nickname not unknown to Debbie Pilato Suer.

The 58-year-old College of the Desert honors student lives up to that name.
She was one of few students nationwide selected to attend the Presidential Inaugural Conference in Washington D.C. -- based on her academic merits.
However, even super-heroes have weaknesses.

"I found out, though, that it's about $3,200 tuition to go, besides airfare from California and besides paying for someone to watch my disabled husband and children," Debbie Pilato Suer said.

That's not stopping her, though. She's working hard to raise money to make her once-in-a-lifetime trip happen. With her professional life on the up-swing, Debbie remembers how much she had to go through to get here. First, it was her husband's disease.

"It was about eight, nine years ago when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease," Suer said.

Then she had her own issues as well. Debbie couldn't have a child, and she just celebrated 24 years of sobriety.

"A lot of heartache, and a lot of traumatic experiences before the girls came. Then when the girls came, it was like I was finally able to walk through the rest of it," Suer said.

Debbie is now the adopted mother of two little girls -- sisters who were both born addicted to heroine. Their struggles paired with her own motivate her.

"I have a burning desire deep in my gut to help other women that struggle with alcohol and drug addictions," she said.

Though it took her 58 years to find herself, Debbie says better late than never.

"Things happen for a reason. Every time I'm up against a challenge, I say to myself 'There's got to be a reason this is in my path,'" she said.

This honor student plans to continue her education, "Through the World Education University, which I'll be able to do in the comfort of my own home. So I'll be able to be here with my family and still go through my bachelor's, masters, and hopefully a doctorate," Suer said, spoken just as Wonder Woman would have said it.

If you want to help Debbie get to DC, go to her Facebook page at "Debbie Pilato Suer Washington DC."