AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PeopleAdmin, a leader in talent management software for K-12 and higher education, today announced the latest honoree of its Inspired2Educate recognition program for her story about her college professor and his “never give up” spirit that continues to inspire her today.
Ima Hicks, a French Instructor at Virginia Union University (VUU), told the story of how her first year of college and her life — both marked with an ever-present sense of not fitting in — changed upon meeting Professor Mathis Szykowski, a French professor and a Jewish refugee from WWII-era France.
“I don’t think I would have made it out of Oberlin alive had he not been there,” Hicks wrote in her Inspired2Educate submission. “I admire him for pursuing, despite obstacles, his education (earning his B. A. in night school) while working full time and raising two children. This perseverance, born of experience and a dedication to learning, self-critical evaluation, equity, and reconstitution, is what I try to pass on to my students.”
PeopleAdmin board member Kermit Randa awarded Hicks with a scholarship today at a university assembly in Richmond, in front of more than 200 faculty and staff. Randa also awarded VUU with a scholarship.
“Ima Hicks and Mathis Szykowski show us that education doesn’t always come easy, but it lifts people out of adverse circumstances unlike any other pursuit,” Randa said. “They also demonstrate that when educators take the time to recognize and coach students through their struggles, they can change countless lives for years to come.”
Inspired2Educate, a PeopleAdmin program begun in February, encourages current education professionals at all K-20 schools and grades — from kindergarten to Ph.D. programs — to nominate via video or in writing a teacher, administrator, or staff member who inspired them to start their careers in education.
At age 60, Hicks says her career in education is just starting. She hopes to complete a Ph.D. program in the next few years and has already studied at various leading institutions across the U.S., including Oberlin College, New York University, Indiana University, the University of California, and Georgetown University.
“VUU is the total opposite because it’s more or less an open-access school,” she said. “We teach students that some consider the bottom of the barrel, but I feel like I’m contributing more toward society by educating these students … which starts by putting myself in their shoes. Many of them work full time to pay their tuition and deal with family issues outside of class. I try to make sure they all benefit from having spent time in my presence.”