92-year-old earns GEDPublished 8:50pm Thursday, December 26, 2013
A special gift arrived for Hobson’s Marie Hill and her family this Christmas: the 92-year-old received her GED diploma.
Growing up under segregation, she’d received only a seventh-grade education at a Suffolk grammar school. Then she was busy raising nine children and three grandchildren.
After deciding the time was right, Marie Hill had been doggedly working toward her GED since January 2011, daughter Mary Hill says, first with Suffolk Public Schools then Chesapeake Public Schools.
“I feel so good because I have worked night and day to get this,” Marie Hill said recently, clutching the diploma that arrived Dec. 21. “I feel like I could conquer the world. I don’t feel 92, I feel sweet 16.”
The nonagenarian had dreamed of furthering her formal education. She was always a reader with a quick mind for figures as well, her daughter said.
In the living room of their home on Crittenden Road, Mary Hill demonstrated.
“Mom, what’s nine-times-nine?” The answer, two seconds later: “Eighty-one.” The exercise was successfully repeated for several other random multiplications.
“I always have had a love of arithmetic, with the adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing,” the elder Hill said. “I was second in my (math) class at grammar school.”
Marie Hill’s quest threw up some challenges. Letters from her doctors, submitted along with requests for special accommodations, list medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease — severely impairing her vision — and chronic atrial fibrillation — an irregular heart beat that limits blood flow.
Mary Hill said her mom had to call out answers during a pre-test at the Pruden Center, which gave others taking the test an unfair advantage.
“My mother would study every day,” she said. “I had to make my mom go to bed at night. I had to say, ‘Put those books away and go to bed!’”
“I was determined I was going to finish my education,” the elder Hill said.
Marie Hill says she now plans to encourage others who didn’t graduate high school to attain their GED — young and old alike.
“I’m planning on going round and lecturing to all of the young people, and the older people,” she said.
“If I can get it at 92, you can too. I’m saying to all the young people, ‘Stay in school and get an education!’”
Barbara Copeland, one of several tutors who worked with her, said Marie Hill was an inspiration to others.
“I think it will serve as an encouragement to some of the younger ones who have not gotten theirs,” Copeland said. “They may feel that if she can do it, (they) can do it.”