Rickey Murray, Student Extraordinaire

Rickey Murray graduates from HCC this spring and transfers to USF as a pre-med undergrad. Wise well beyond his years, Rickey realized at a young age that his personal struggles are his strengths…This drives him to be the best possible person he can be, compelling those in his circle to do the same.  Without a doubt, he will leave an indelible impression on the students and faculty at HCC who have had the pleasure of knowing him.

The youngest of six children, Rickey lived in Orlando with his mother until he was 10 years old. Although his mother was very loving, his home environment was unstable and she could no longer care for him. Rickey eventually moved to Virginia to live with his sister Tanesha. Tanesha’s army career was advancing and she knew she could provide a stable home environment for her younger brother. After he graduated high school, his sister was reassigned to MacDill Air Force Base and they moved to Gibsonton, Florida. Rickey attributes his successes in and out of the classroom to his sister, and states that she is his greatest influence. Tanesha recognized that Rickey had the capacity to break the cycle of poverty that plagued their family. She advised him not to be afraid of people, respect where you came from and be the best you can be. He lives his life by her sage advice.

Rickey’s thirst for knowledge is as strong as his need to share that knowledge with others. His math professor hand-selected Rickey to serve as a Chemistry Supplemental Instructor for a peer-led study group. Audrey Rose Blanco, Lead Mentor for the program, says this position could have been made for Rickey and remarked, “he is not only seeking resources, he wants to be the resource.”

Drawn to the medical field, Rickey planned to go into nursing. However, after attending a seminar at an AMSA conference held at USF, he now aspires to become a doctor. As a doctor, he says he can draw from his personal experiences to be more empathetic to his patients.  This summer, Rickey was accepted into the Moffitt SPARK (Summer Program for the Advancement of Research Knowledge), an internship program for undergraduates at Moffitt Cancer Center. He credits his professors for pushing him outside his comfort zone and making him aware of opportunities like SPARK, that he may have otherwise missed.

Rickey Murray is a recipient of the HCC Foundation Gwendolyn Stephenson Scholarship, established in honor of HCC’s 6th President. To give the gift of higher education to outstanding students like Rickey is a reward we will all reap the benefits from for many years to come. To find out how you too can make a difference, please contact Ann Menchen at (813) 253-7018 or amenchen3@hccfl.edu.

Dr. Maribeth Mobley

HCC Alumna, HCC Professor and HCCF Donor: A Perfect Trifecta

Dr. Maribeth Mobley was born in Bartow, Florida and moved to Plant City as a young child, where her father served as pastor at Deliverance Tabernacle for 46 years. In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, her father was a heavy equipment mechanic until his retirement. Dr. Mobley recalls her father as a spiritually, emotionally and physically strong man and credits her staunch work ethic to him.

A self-proclaimed goofball, as a young person, college was not on Dr. Mobley’s radar. In fact, she dropped out of school at 16 to marry her high school sweetheart, promising her father that she would complete her high school courses. She earned her high school diploma from the American School of Correspondence at 19. It was not until the age of 23 that Dr. Mobley’s sister decided that they should both take a class at the newly opened HCC Plant City Campus. Dr. Mobley found the atmosphere on the campus exciting and conducive to intellectual growth. She remembers the students being older, mid-twenties, thirties, some forties, and conscientious. During these early years as a college student, she developed an intense love of learning, “a fire in her belly,” she says.

By the time she began her college career, Dr. Mobley had a myriad of colorful experiences as a manual laborer under her belt. She fondly recalled working at a mobile home factory and proudly mentioned that she was one of the first women hired as a laborer in this industry. She loved the work and made a very good wage for a young woman in the 1970s.  This is hard to imagine; Dr. Mobley putting mobile home frames together. Those of us who know Dr. Mobley, know she is slight in stature. However, the moment you look in her eyes, you see them twinkle with a combination of determination and mischief, and quickly realize she accomplishes whatever she sets her mind to.

Slowly, her career as a manual laborer ended, and as she progressed in her studies, she began to pay for her classes by tutoring. At the time, classes at HCC were about $7 a credit hour. Initially, she took classes aimlessly, but developed a love of humanities, in particular American literature, and decided to major in English. Dr. Mobley had a series of mentors along the way who saw things in her that she had not yet seen in herself. After graduating with her AA from HCC, she went on to USF and obtained her Bachelor’s, Master’s and finally her Ph.D.  During these years, she paid for her classes by part-time teaching at HCC and USF.

Dr. Mobley loves teaching and she loves HCC. As she reflected on her many years at the college and the countless number of students she has taught, she initially claimed she does not remember many of them. But she then shared numerous encounters with former students she has crossed paths with in grocery stores, doctors’ offices and many other places who thanked her for her wisdom, her love of learning, and her kindness. Similar to the mentors of her youth, Dr. Mobley instinctively knew something about them that they did not yet know about themselves and clearly made a difference in these students’ lives.

She also makes a difference for students through her support of the HCC Foundation. A longtime annual donor to the Foundation, Dr. Mobley’s generous annual contributions to support student scholarships have helped many of our students who ordinarily would not have been able to attend HCC fulfill their dream of a college education. Dr. Mobley says her “blood is in this ground.”  There is intense pride in this statement, and we are all grateful for her many years of dedication to HCC.