The Realities of Education in the 1990s: An Interview with Mrs. Margaret Wright

By Gracie Sellers, Shelton State Community College

I met with Mrs. Margaret Wright on a Saturday morning in her kitchen at her lovely home in the country. There, Mrs. Wright told me her experiences of what it was like to get where she is now in life. She is a wife, mother, and recently became a grandmother. Mrs. Wright works at Coral Industries, but this was not her dream job. Therefore, my question to her was, “What was your dream job, and why did you not pursue it?” Her answer was simple, “Life changes, you change, and let’s be honest, college is hard.” Following up on her answer, I asked Mrs. Wright about her younger years. 

Her mother was a single parent, a teacher who felt the financial strain. Mrs. Wright explained how she would spend her teenage years in the ballpark concession stands earning her money, trying to help her mother by providing for her own needs. She graduated from Tuscaloosa County High in 1988, which held over five hundred students. After graduation, she attended Shelton State Community College. She says she felt obligated to have a job while in college but never failed to keep a 4.0 GPA the two years she attended Shelton. Mrs. Wright explained how exhausting it was to manage both but knew she had to because of the financial strain on her and her mother. She explained how having a job makes you independent. 

After getting her Associate’s degree from Shelton, a woman named Bethany Ingle helped Mrs. Wright get a scholarship to the University of Alabama (UA). She was returning to college to pursue her passions for painting and ceramics. While attending the University of Alabama, Mrs. Wright told me she mainly stayed in the art buildings, Woods Hall, and the Ferguson Student Center. At the time, UA was not a walkable campus. Mrs. Wright said, “It was more peaceful back.” Mrs. Wright also explained how she did not use technology while in college. She was first introduced to computers when she was in sixth grade, and never even used one. She was more into books. She even quoted Albert Einstein to better articulate her position, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” While I must admit I laughed at this, she further explained, “Technology is a great thing, but your truest information and sources come from your true resources that can only be found in books and history.” Mrs. Margaret Wright graduated from the University of Alabama in December 1992. Upon graduation, she did not use her degree because, as she explained, “college took a toll on [her].” She was exhausted and never took any breaks or time for herself. 

Our short conversation closed with Mrs. Wright telling me that she was tired of being poor and stressed out. For that reason, with her two degrees, she took a job at Coral Industries Incorporation, a manufacturing company. She has been there for twenty years and is content with the life she has made for herself. Mrs. Wright’s advice to me was this, “Go for what you love, if you need a break, take it, and with time everything will fall into place.” Her words of wisdom meant a lot to me because I am on a similar college journey in hopes of following my passion. I needed to hear someone remind me to take breaks, do what I love, and that everything will fall into place. 

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