The Young and the Restless' Sharon Newman has made her fair share of mistakes over the years (the character has been married more times than you can count on one hand, after all!), but her ongoing "back-to-school" storyline shows that there's no expiration date on taking steps to better oneself.
After decades of trying different careers, from modeling to journalism, the fictional single mother put herself through college and graduated last year with a degree in psychology from Genoa City University. Now she's working toward getting her master's degree via an online program, and her longtime portrayer, Sharon Case, is thrilled about the lovely message that the storyline is sending to fans: it's never too late to go back to school.
"I got a lot of messages from fans [when she graduated last year], and I love that that's what that story told people, that that was the message," Case tells Soap Central of the storyline, adding that though most of the messages were positive, there were some fans who were dubious about the unusual soap storyline. "There were some fans who said, 'Oh, wow, I wasn't sure that you were even going to college or how long you'd been there, and suddenly you're graduating?' Okay, true. But we didn't need to make a major storyline of Sharon going to school every day. We made mentions of it here and there through the past years that she was going to class, or she was carrying some books. 'Sharon in College' wasn't meant to be a front-screen storyline where it was detail about her testing scores [laughs]. It was something happening in the background, and so I was glad that the graduation followed suit and suddenly happened one day: there was a graduation. I felt that was all you needed to do to send that message across."
The writers are approaching Sharon's current master's degree storyline in a similar fashion, with casual references here and there about the long nights she has spent studying and how the character will never give up on learning. And the latter point is something Case says is truly special to be portraying on-screen.
"It's true: it is never too late to go back to school," she says. "People either think it's too late or think that they're not capable of doing it because it's something only young people can get up to speed on. But going back to school is like going back to the gym: it's really hard at first to drag yourself there, but you soon find that you love being there, you love being a student. Everybody loves to learn new things! You are putting yourself in a new environment with new people, and you might even make new lifelong friends. There's just every single reason I can think of to go back to school. If you have any spare time, just go back to school. See where it goes!"
What do you think of the way the Y&R writers have handled Sharon's "back-to-school" storyline? Do you think the character's on-screen journey has the potential to inspire viewers to start or continue their higher education? Where would you like to see Sharon go from here? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.