Many of us have overcome challenges – Red Bluff Daily News


Like the writer Joseph Neff, I also went to university.

I came from a working class family, with a limited education, who decided early on that I wasn’t going to college, and so they didn’t have any money for me, because they didn’t have saved only for the older brother. Given this revelation, I went to CSU-Chico and over the next 5 years worked to earn a BA in Public Speaking and Rhetoric, with a minor in Industrial Arts and a High School Diploma.

I worked every day, every weekend, every summer and every vacation. I often had to stand at the back of the class to stay awake. I cleaned houses, washed dishes, and figured out that if you worked in a bar or restaurant, they fed you. And even though I didn’t have a partner or kids to care for, being an attractive, well-endowed young woman came with its own set of challenges.

At this point, I must confess that I took out a loan for my last semester, as I was taking 30 units. Yes – 30 units. My academic advisor supported me – and I did. I was exhausted and wanted to get it over with.

In addition, for Mr. Neff, I started working at 14, picking apricots and contributing to social security, reaching all my neighborhoods. However, when I became a teacher, paying into CalStrs, the teachers’ pension, I apparently lost my right to full Social Security compensation upon retirement from teaching. Using a formula, they deduct my social security benefits from my teacher’s pension and I get what’s left.

Many of us have stories of struggles and challenges. I could certainly write weekly or monthly about my struggles. However, at this point, I think it’s more productive to volunteer, try to lighten the load on others, and make the most of your days on this side of the dirt.

—Nancy Howard Hickson, Red Bluff

Comments are closed.