Matt Carissimi / Lantern photographer
Unlike many of her truant classmates, OSU student Marchane Hawkins attends every class she’s enrolled in. Hawkins also differs from her peers in another way: She is 85 years old.
Over the course of 20 years, through Program 60, a program that allows Ohio resident senior citizens 60 and older to attend classes for free on a non-credit basis, Hawkins has been able to take dozens of courses and doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
“I think the most classes I’ve enjoyed were history, particularly black history. I’ve learned things about myself and my race that I didn’t know,” she said. “I’ve learned that we have accomplished so many things, we have accomplished so much.”
Little obstacles haven’t deterred her from the classroom. She continues to go to class, and finds it difficult to comprehend other students who don’t follow suit.
“Education is key. If you want to socialize and speak to people you have to be able to speak intelligently and broaden your views,” she said.
Attending class is only one of the many accomplishments Hawkins can add to her personal bucket list. She has raised children, traveled the world and said she has enjoyed the latter stages of her life.
“I hope to leave a legacy with my children to live until you die, and to enjoy yourself,” she said.
Hawkins said she watched her six children graduate high school and several attend college and imagined what it would be like.
“I wanted to see what college was like, I wanted to experience it … plus I worked up there (at Ohio State),” Hawkins said. “I wanted to give it a try … it’s a good alternative to knitting and being in the house.”
When she was younger, Hawkins did not attend college because her parents could not afford it, and it was not something that African-Americans were taught to pursue, she said.
“You were not expected to go to college. You were expected to go to white folks’ kitchens … college was for a different class of people,” she said.
Being a native of Columbus’ East Side and a licensed practical nurse at the OSU hospital in the 1960s, Hawkins described OSU as being an easy choice to attend because of proximity and her awareness of the school.
“I thought it had a good learning environment, it was accessible because I worked here, and it also had a good reputation,” she said.
Her age has provided her classmates with real-life experiences that are relevant to topics discussed in class.
“I like having her there because she can give me a different perspective. Most students I teach are younger, and born in the late 1980s,” said Harwood McClerking, an assistant professor in political science.
Sara Santiago, a second-year in psychology, said Hawkins has motivated her not only academically, but in life as well.
“I learned from her that learning is a lifelong process. You shouldn’t be bound by age; there’s no limit on life,” she said.
Jamila Caldwell, a second-year in political science, was amazed just to witness Hawkins coming to class daily.
“I guess I was surprised because I know in one of my classes there was a 79-year-old, and she ended up dropping out,” Caldwell said. “She (Hawkins) comes everyday. I am surprised that she still has ambition to learn.”
Hawkins laughed as she talked about encountering many students who share the same astonishment as Caldwell.
“I kind of laugh they can’t believe that I come. They always ask: ‘Why do you come? You don’t have to,'” she said. “I can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to come … I just don’t understand kids that can’t get up and go to class, because I don’t have to come.”
In years to come, Hawkins will not be inactive.
“I want to continue as long as I am able to hear and walk,” she said, laughing.