Scholarship Honors the Life of Inspiring 78-Year-Old Graduate

ficksIn a hospital room packed with family and friends, 78-year old Peggy Ficks achieved her lifelong goal of graduating from college.

Ficks was supposed to walk with her classmates at the Tunxis Community College Commencement ceremony but a terminal illness and hospitalization derailed that plan. Shortly after learning of the situation, Tunxis President Cathryn L. Addy and Dean of Students Kirk Peters decided to bring graduation to her.  With “Pomp and Circumstance” playing on a cell phone, a fully robed Addy and Peters marched down the hall of the hospital wing to Peggy’s hospital room. A private graduation followed and she earned her associate degree in general studies. Says her daughter Laura Ficks, “That degree made our mother’s life complete. It was the last thing she wanted before she died. We will never be able to find words to describe the gift that Dr. Addy and Dr. Peters gave our mother. We will be forever grateful.”

The road to a college diploma was anything but easy for Ficks. She was always interested in learning but she put aside her educational goals when she married Dick, her husband of 49 years, while they immersed themselves in raising their three children. It wasn’t until Peggy’s late 50’s, when her children were grown, that she decided to enroll at Tunxis, while Dick provided his typical support and encouragement.

Recollecting Peggy’s days at Tunxis, Laura says, “We knew that family still came first. Mom balanced school with the needs of our Dad, sometimes only taking one or two classes a semester.”

Classes weren’t always easy for Ficks but she plodded on, determined to finish her degree, not only for herself, but also to be an inspiration to her family. President Addy recalls, “She really wanted this for her grandchildren, to prove to them that nothing was ever impossible, that no dream, however long deferred, needed to go unfulfilled with the right amount of determination.”Sadly, Peggy Ficks passed away three days after receiving her degree. The children were inspired both by their mother’s journey and their father’s support. Peggy and her siblings wanted to do something to honor their parents. They asked themselves, “How can we help change the lives of students at Tunxis?”  To this end, they decided to create the Peggy and Dick Ficks Scholarship. Each year the fund will provide scholarships to students who, like Peggy, have overcome obstacles and exemplify a love of learning.

This year’s winner is Leslie Mroczek, a 2014 graduate of Plainville High School and a Dean’s List student. She plans to pursue her associate degree at Tunxis and move on to Central Connecticut State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in art education. She has held down two part-time jobs and always exhibits an upbeat positive attitude. Laura Ficks said, “Our parents would be so excited to know this scholarship will make a difference in Leslie’s life. “