LIMA — Joyce Tracy really wasn’t supposed to go to college; not with being one of nine children in a family with little funds to spare for higher education.
Yet, Tracy managed to become the first in the family to earn a college diploma. It came from OSU-Lima thanks to the affordability of the regional campus and from Tracy working as she went through school.
On Thursday, Tracy received the Violet I. Meek Town and Gown Award from the school. The award had her thinking about her early days on the then small campus.
Tracy, coordinator and instructor of the Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) program at the Apollo Career Center, credits OSU-Lima staff for keeping her from quitting after three years when she had gotten engaged and wondered why she was still in school.
“That one-on-one caring of all the staff helped me to finish,” she said, specifically crediting the late Joyce Sellati. “That is what OSU-Lima offers to our students. How they touched me, I see how important my job here at Apollo is.”
Tracy is the 11th recipient of the award named after Meek, who retired as dean and director of the Lima campus in 2003. She led the school for 12 years. The award honorees personify the idea of “education for citizenship, the motto of OSU. The award honors people who promote community growth and increased interaction between the school and community.
“Joyce has been dedicated to helping this community and she realizes that one of the true resources of the community is the OSU-Lima campus,” Dean John Snyder said. “She has been exemplary in her role in connecting this as a resource for the community with students and others in the community who have taken advantage of it.”
After graduating in 1975 with a degree in education, Tracy taught second grade for two years at Elida Elementary School. She stayed home while her three children were small, but continued to substitute in area schools.
Tracy got her start at Apollo in 1978, teaching a microwave cooking class at night. It fit in well with her family’s business, Tracy’s Appliances. The school next asked her to substitute teach in the ABLE program, which led to her teaching the following year. She began taking on more job responsibilities and 15 years ago became program coordinator.
“That has grown as well. Now it is this program and student services, and overseeing testing and professional development. As my kids left home, I was able to take on more and more,” she said. Two of her children went onto OSU in Columbus.
Tracy has served on several local foundations, and is currently a member of OSU-Lima’s development council. It is a position she has fully embraced.
“I love being on this development council. There is so much potential to grow,” she said, pointing to the school’s efforts to bring a student life center to campus. “The school is just such a wonderful part of the community. We are so lucky.”
Tracy said it is an honor to be in the same group as past recipients of the award.
“I just think it is a wonderful group of people to be honored with,” she said. “All have been very interactive in the community. They care about Lima. Lima is such a great place to grow up in and there are so many opportunities here. It is so wonderful to have an OSU campus right here in our town.”