celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Learning gives limitless opportunities
Mila Gibson
Age: 64
Occupation: Founder and general director of Amarillo Opera

Where did you receive your education?
High School: Sweetwater. College: bachelor's and masters' degrees from West Texas State University. Post-graduate: Houston Baptist University; Stephen F. Austin University; Sam Houston State University and University of California at Berkley. Doctoral work: Arizona State University. Additional classes: Amarillo College; Texas Tech University and private vocal studies.

How has your education played a role in your life today?
After 15 years of marriage, I unexpectedly found myself to be divorced and a single mother of two sons, ages 11 and 14. Thanks to my education, I was able to support myself and my sons by being a college voice teacher. It was something that used my talents and training, something that I loved, and most importantly at that time in our lives, it allowed me to have lots of time for my children.

What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?
Being married in college and having a child. During my days at WT, there was no day care available in Canyon. I was determined to graduate, so I took my son, "Thumper," to classes with me until he was 2 years old. The professors knew that it was the only way I could finish. Fortunately, he never disturbed class, so we both got to continue.

What is the value of your education?
Like the MasterCard commercial says, "It is priceless."

What would you say to someone who's undecided about continuing their education?
What my grandfather told me, and what I have told countless numbers of students, "An education is the one thing that can never be taken from you. You can lose your money. Your possessions can be destroyed or stolen. Your spouse can desert you, but no one can ever take away your education."

When did you make education a priority?
My parents and most of my relatives had college degrees. My mom was a stay-at-home mother while I was growing up, but they still instilled a priority for education in their children's lives. It was never a question of if we would go to college, but where we would go to college and what we would most enjoy studying.

What made you realize the importance of education in your life?
I promised my grandfather on his deathbed that I would finish college. My generation of women did not expect to have to work. We all thought that our husbands would support us. I just wanted to have my degrees so that I could teach music and voice for fun. I probably did not realize just how important my education was until my husband left me.

Did you ever think of quitting? What made you keep going?
I did not think about quitting. I do understand others when they think about it, or actually do quit, because I remember how tough it was to be up all night with a child cutting teeth and still keep up my homework and get to classes. I remember that after we had to sell our cars to pay the hospital bills, I had to walk across Canyon in freezing weather, pushing a baby stroller with my tightly bundled baby. I remember eating homemade soup and onion sandwiches so we could stay in school. I remember praying hard for the tenacity to stay in school and graduate. What kept me going, my promise was the grace of God and my promise to my grandfather.

2009 Stories
2008 Archive
calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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