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.