we must never forget that the highestappreciation is not to utter words, but
to live by them. – John F. Kennedy
There are an overwhelming number of people in our county who are trying to overcome challenges in their daily life. Many of them know that education may be the only key to succeeding in those challenges ... and many of those people are students walking the campus hallways of Mott Community College (MCC).
“Mary O,” as we call her (with similar affection as Jackie Onassis was called “Jackie O”), is an older student - age 53 - enrolled at Mott College who is desperately hoping to transform a life riddled with disappointments and dependency.
Over the years, she suffered abuse and abandonment by the men in her life – all of whom she relied on for happiness and security. Mary suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father and married at the early age of 18 that resulted in becoming a widow with children. With these two setbacks behind her, she later took a chance on securing stability and comfort because her new husband, after all, was a minister. However, this man of the clergy decided one day without warning that not only did he no longer want to continue his ministry or his pastorship, he also no longer wanted to continue his marriage to “Mary O.”
Trying to cope with another setback, Mary continued to wrestle with her history of sexual abuse and with the fact that her father had also sexually abused her younger brother. At her father’s deathbed, Mary offered forgiveness despite the anguish they were put through as teenagers. Outraged by this concession, Mary’s brother vowed never to speak to her again - because she had allowed their father to die with dignity even though he perpetrated those evil acts. To this day they are estranged.
In spite of all this pain (or maybe because of it), Mary is a student in the social work program at MCC and is carrying a 3.9 grade point average. As we give thanks for our triumphs despite our trials, let us also pause for a moment to remember students like Mary O who seek education as an avenue to improve life circumstances and heal wounds. It has been said that those hurts and pains that we experience in childhood don’t just magically evaporate as we grow older. They rumble around in us, and when we have reached a level of maturity, strength, insight, and awareness to handle them, they come up and give us the opportunity to work through them and heal.
Life is not always what we want it to be…but it is what we do with it that makes the difference. Lena Horne once said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” Please consider a gift today as we uplift Mary O and others like her.