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76 Years Old West Englewood Resident Completes Her GED

Mrs. Lola Jones completed the GED requirements at the ­­ripe young age of 76 years old!  Her motivation and perseverance kept her from  allowing obstacles to stop her from reaching her educational goal.

“I always wanted to get my high school diploma,and now I have,” she reflects.  As a result, Tolton Center/Legler would like to help  her transition to her next educational endeavor.

 She was the first born of five sisters and  brothers of proud parents Eddie and Ocie in Helena, Arkansas.  They were  hard working sharecroppers who taught their children the importance of family values and a love for church.   As a little girl, Lola had dreams of a better life.  At the age of thirty, she packed up  her belongings and  headed for the big city to pursue those dreams.

 After arriving in Chicago, Mrs. Lola began working for Pekin Cleaners. By day she was a laundress  and by night she was a sorter for the U. S. Post Office where she met Freddie Jones.  Eventually, love blossomed  and they were married thrity-four years ago.   Like many parents who had to work, the two oldest daughters  took the responsibility of delegating chores and being disciplinarians.  The public service announcement, “Do You Know Where Your Children Are,” didn’t apply to her family because Lola did not allow her children to go outside while she was at work.  In frustration, one of her sons decided he was going to run away from home. Frantically, her daughter called her at work to inform her of the news. Mrs. Lola responded by telling her daughter, “Make Jimmy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and say goodbye. “ Once her son heard his mother’s response,  he changed his mind and  never threatened to run away again. 

Life hasn't been easy for Mrs. Lola, but, strengthened by her belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, she never allowed challenges to keep her down.  Like many Chicagoans, she moved several times. Initially she lived on the Southside, then moved to the Westside, and eventually  returned to the Southside and settled in  the West Englewood community where she has resided for the past forty years.

The Tolton Center staff first met Ms. Lola when Tolton  contracted  with Children’s Home and Aid Society to offer GED classes  at Earle School.   Mrs.  Lola  was  always the first student  to arrive in class, the last to leave, and  had  near perfect attendance.  However, because of funding cuts, the program was terminated .  Impressed with Mrs. Lola’s dedication and perseverance , her GED teachers offered to tutor her on their personal time. They set up a schedule to meet her at the West Englewood Library on Monday and Saturday mornings. Mrs. Lola remained motivated and continued to demonstrate her commitment to learning.  At one point she was hospitalized for about two weeks over the summer, but immediately upon her release she returned to her studies without missing a step. When one of the teachers was unable to travel to the Southside because of other obligations, Mrs. Lola went to the West side even though she has chronic arthritis in her legs and back and walks with a cane. 

When she was asked what inspired her to get her GED, she replied that her great grandchildren inspired her because she felt like a hypocrite encouraging them to finish school and she had not finished school herself. Upon completing the GED requirements, she was asked to describe her feelings.  “ I feel jubilant, excited, and happy, “she said.  Since informing family and friends of her accomplishment, Mrs. Lola has received nothing but standing ovations and well wishes from everyone – including strangers-- causing her to say, “I feel like a celebrity.”

Finally, the message Mrs. Lola  would like to share with people is to follow their dreams and not to give up, especially when they feel like life is getting them down.  In moving forward, her next step is to search for a college where she can find a major that she is passionate about.  She is someone you should know.

Congratulations Mrs. Lola!

Keywords: accomplishment, GED, inspiration, library

Posted in Neighborhood News

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