Tuesday, January 24, 2012

69 Year-Old Vol State Student Ready for Graduation

Every student dreams of the day when the educational journey comes to an end.  Well, in reality, it doesn’t actually happen like that because you never quit learning.  Ask Helen McBride.  She will graduate from Vol State this spring, and she is 69 years old.  She is an inspiration for me every time I want to quit.  When McBride’s husband of 47 years passed away in 2007, her friends thought she would fall apart, but McBride was not ready to throw in the towel.  After a pep talk from her sister-in-law she decided to look at returning to school to get her GED.
“Everyone in my family had graduated high school but me,” said McBride.  “I was the only one of my mother’s children that didn’t have a diploma, and, when I passed my GED, I gave it to her on Mother’s Day.  Now, four years later and by the grace of God, when I graduate, I will give her my college diploma on her 91st birthday.  Everybody at this school has been wonderful to me from day one, but it’s the students that have made the difference.  In the past I have been late to work and things like that, but once I started school I have never been late to class.  In fact, I have never missed a class, except once or twice for illness.”
Associate Professor of Communications and Journalism Clay Scott enjoys the diversity of a community college.
“Helen has overcome the obstacles she faced a young person,” said Scott.  “She took advantage of an opportunity to come back to school and has made the best of it.  Though there is an age difference, there is not a communication or education difference, because she wants to learn just like they do.  They probably learn more from her than she does from them.  Because of her lifelong experience, students can learn from her successes and mistakes.  There have been times in the newsroom when she was able to offer advice to students on non-academic things, and it is really neat to see that interaction.  I have had several non-traditional students, and she has seen a transition from radio, to TV, and now to digital communication.  This brings perspective and something fresh and new to the class.”
McBride works for the school paper as a photographer.  “I reached a stage last year where I just didn’t think I could do it,” said McBride.  “But I made it through.   My favorite class has been journalism with Mr. Clay Scott.  At first I had a little bit of a challenge, but now I love it.  The stories he tells and the things he teaches are wonderful.  I have learned a lot from him.”
McBride wants to use her education to help inspire kids to go to school.  She is working on a children’s book about a magic fly that inspires them to achieve their dreams by not quitting. 
Volunteer State Community College


Anonymous said...

I have had Helen in one of my classes. She has been a wonderful inspiration to me. I am also an older student going back to college. She lets me see everyday that it is never too late. Congrats to you Ms. Helen! I will never forget you!

Sandra Hitchcox

Anonymous said...

Wish I could have had the pleasure of being in a class with Ms. Helen. She sounds simply inspiring! As an older student myself (52), and always the oldest in my classes, I have often wondered if it has been worth it. I get that "What do you think you are doing???" thought all the time! Thank you, Ms. Helen, for your inspiring story! I am two terms away from graduating myself and will use this article as motivation to stay the course! Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Just when I started to think that I was not going to be able to do this. I found this story. This is amazing to find such an amazing person as Ms. Helen. I must thank her for she has inspired me not to give up. I hope she succeeds in her dreams.

Dustin Reynolds

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing Helen in the Advising Center. I helped her choose classes one of the first semesters she was here at Vol State (perhaps it was her first semester here). I remember thinking that she was such a bright and positive person. I knew that she was going to succeed in college. Sometimes you "just know" that someone is going to do well. I was so impressed with Helen that I introduced her to my supervisor at the time. He also spent time talking to her that day. I'm glad I got to be one of the first people on campus to get to know Helen.

--Fran Henslee