Mary Lou Ward
Imagine living in a place where people embrace the idea of lifelong learning and approach education with a conviction that says, “That can be me.”
For Mary Lou Ward, it’s not hard to imagine. She’s living it. A Hiram-AVI Foodsystems employee, Mary Lou’s work at Hiram College brought her close to students and faculty for more than a decade. This year, she joined “Great Books at Work,” an Education Works program partnership between Hiram and AVI where Mary Lou and her fellow workers read rigorous texts in a college-level seminar with a Hiram professor.
“At first I was very nervous. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But when I realized that the professor was genuinely interested in what I had to say, I began to read the book differently,” Mary Lou said. The program strengthened her bond with her colleagues, who frequently discussed the book outside of class. She also enjoyed getting to know the faculty in a different way. “Now that I know them better, I feel like we are all a part of the same community.” Mary Lou now believes, “That can be me.”
Mary Lou and her AVI colleagues were not alone in benefitting from the program. Ella Kirk, professor of French and leader of the first seminar, was deeply moved by the conversation among the AVI employees, whose perspectives emerged from their rich life experiences. She felt that their discussions were among the best she had ever experienced, deeper even than those with her undergraduate students.
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