71-year old Mary Jean Hall is going back to college with a little help from a couple of EAST students from Clinton High School.
Investing in the next generation is what EAST is all about. But as a couple of EAST students at Clinton High School have shown, sometimes preparing the next generation is done by investing in those who have gone before them.
EAST at Clinton High School facilitator Sarah Hutchins reached out to EAST students Calvin Drew Koone and Katelynn Thatcher to help out someone they did not expect; a 71 year old college student named Mary Jean Hall.
“My facilitator told us that a lady was having some computer issues in one of her college courses, so I volunteered to help and met Ms. Hall,” Calvin said. “Her project had to do with mortality rates in a specific graveyard by year. I helped take her data and format it into tables.”
Katelynn helped Mary Jean with a couple of math and science projects, showing her how to create graphs and calculate mean values with her computer.
“I was called out of English class one day to help her. At first I didn’t know what was happening, but once everything was explained, I was glad to help,” Katelynn said. “I was amazed at her determination to complete college even after it had been so long since her past schooling. I was amazed that she was able to overcome so many obstacles to gain her college degree and I am glad that I was able to be a part of that process.”
Hutchins was impacted personally by the students’ interactions with Mary Jean as well, as her eyes were opened to just how valuable education is to those who might not take it for granted.
“One take away that I noticed from other students was the value in education,” Hutchins said. “Ms. Hall was unable to go to college when she graduated but took advantage of the opportunity. She said it was one of her bucket list items. Kids saw the importance of having goals and working to achieve them no matter how long it took.”
Mary Jean expanded on what Hutchins said, saying she wanted to go to college in the 60’s when she was younger, but never had the opportunity until now.
“I always wanted to go to college,” Mary Jean said. “I never had the chance to go to college, but if you’re over 60 you can go for free, so I’m just taking advantage of my age. And I believe you’re never too old to learn.”
She says she loved working with the EAST students at Clinton High School, and has already visited them again and will continue to do so.
“They were really patient and helpful,” Mary Jean said. “I was on a walker and they walked me all the way out to my car. They said I could come back any time whenever I needed help.”