It was a phone call to an area hospital that lit a spark in Mary Hicks. At 81-years-old, Hicks had phoned and asked about volunteering her time talking with patients and was told to do so she required a high school diploma or GED. That news gave Mary the determination she needed to pursue her GED.
“If that’s what it takes,” Hicks said, “I’m just going to do it then.”
While most people in their 80’s are ready to start slowing down and taking it easy, Hicks is determined to help others. It’s what drives her desire to assist those in hospitals.
“Maybe I could be an outlet to somebody or maybe somebody wants a little prayer, and I could say a prayer for them,” she offered. “My goal with all of this is to talk to people and see what I can do for somebody.”
That spirit of helping others can be traced back to her decision to leave high school after completing the ninth grade in the early 1950s. It was then she decided she would rather focus on working and helping her family on their farm in Frankfort, Ohio than continue on with her schooling. Born in Ross County, Hicks was one of 11 children and helped her parents with all of the tasks that went into making sure the family had what they needed to live a good life. That work ethic and focus on others continued into adulthood.
“I never thought about going back to school or a GED. So this is a new thing for me. I was just out there working my whole life. I worked for my family doctor for many years and did lots of babysitting,” said Hicks.
Not too long ago, she began a GED program and stuck with it for a few months, but then a move kept her from returning to the program. Not one to give up, she did her research and discovered Eastland-Fairfield’s program through their Adult Workforce division. She enrolled and is so committed to it that she takes a taxi cab twice a week, back-and-forth, in order to take the classes required. After a more than 65-year hiatus from the classroom, Hicks enjoys learning but admits it is a challenge.
“It’s tough, but I’m learning,” she said. “That math...oh my goodness. It’s complicated. But my determination is to stick with it.”
At Eastland-Fairfield, she has quickly endeared herself to the staff and students where everyone knows her and is inspired by her. For Hicks, who began this journey with the goal of earning a GED so she can help lift others up, she is already unknowingly accomplishing that by inspiring those around her during the process. And, hopefully inspiring others out there curious about attaining their high school equivalency to take the first step. She believes it’s never too late.
“Don’t be nervous about it no matter how old you are,” offered Hicks. “If you’ve got your mind set on it, you can do it.”
To learn more about Eastland-Fairfield Adult Workforce high school equivalency classes and other programs, click here.