Beth Mathias of Marion is no stranger to hard work or hard times. Emancipated at 16, she dropped out of school to work two jobs to support herself. By age 24, she was tired of struggling at minimum wage jobs to provide for her family, which had grown to include a husband and young son.
Still, nothing prepared her for a police raid on her house where her uncle was arrested and ultimately sent to prison for life.
“My 18-month-old son witnessed police coming in the house with guns drawn and dogs searching our house. I didn’t want him to ever have to go through that again,” Mathias said.
“I looked at my family and realized that few of them had graduated high school and many had ended up in poverty. Several turned to crime. After my uncle was arrested, I decided I wanted something better,” Mathias said.
She entered the free Marion ABLE (Adult Basic & Literacy Education) program to prepare for the GED tests.
“I had a lot of support from the instructors and other students in the class who were trying so hard. They inspired me to work harder,” Mathias recalled.
She finished the ABLE classes in a few months, passed the GED tests in 2010, and won a scholarship to Marion Technical College.
“I scored in the top 1% in math, which shocked me,” Mathias added.
Following the example of an ABLE instructor who received a GED and went to MTC, Beth decided to go to college, too. One in four general MTC students has a GED. Many are the first members of their families to go to college. With a number of adult students, Mathias found she fit right in at MTC.
“If you are thinking I woulda, coulda, shoulda, now is a great time and MTC is a great place to start,” said Tony Box, MTC admissions counselor.
This determined mom double-majored in business management and human and social services. She interned at Goodwill, and this internship turned into a job.
“Not only do I have a full-time job – but it’s actually a career that I enjoy doing. I love working here. We’re not struggling like we used to. We’re no longer on welfare benefits. I can pay my bills myself,” Mathias said. “Just three years ago, I was living with my mom. Now I have my own house.”
After several promotions, Beth is now a grant coordinator. The 30-year-old manages Goodwill’s grants for employment programs, which include helping local teens find jobs to learn critical work skills.
Mathias graduated from MTC with her associate in business management in 2014. She’s now working on a bachelor’s degree in business at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University.
Mathias tells others who are ready for a change that they will find a strong support system at ABLE and MTC.
“In addition to friends and family, there are ABLE instructors and free tutors. MTC instructors are pretty accessible and easy to meet with one-on-one to help you if you are stuck. There are remedial courses to brush up on things you are not sure about,” Mathias explained. “It’s challenging, but in a good way. You are not alone.”
Mathias is leading her family, which now includes a young daughter, in a new direction. Her seven-year-old son noticed.
“My son knows if I am on the computer, I am doing school work. He tells me that when he is big like me, he wants to go to the same schools,” Mathias shared.
This MTC graduate is proud of what she has accomplished and ready to see where this new path will lead her family.