BOOKS: My Alternative to a Traditional Education
by Lewis Hellyer
When I applied to the Bozeman School of Practical Nursing, I had to obtain a GED in order to be accepted into the program. I worried that I wouldn’t pass the tests, as I had only an eighth grade education. I went to the local elementary school and borrowed an eighth grade social studies textbook. With the help of my friend Joyce, who drilled me relentlessly, I passed the Montana government part with a high score.
The GED tests were conducted at Montana State University. I was surprised when one of the MSU counselors invited me to apply to the university’s nursing program for a Bachelor of Science degree. I remember telling him I only had an eighth grade education. He told me my test scores were high enough to qualify for college. My reading comprehension was at a post-graduate level.
How could this be? I was 25 years old and married with five children. I hadn’t had time to take any classes. But … I did have the time to read!
I had read many books from Zane Grey’s popular Westerns to Thomas B. Costain’s The Plantagenets series. I read about history, science, and current events. I even read the racy Peyton Place. My library card was the key to my education!
I am reminded of two men who left an impact on our society: Abraham Lincoln, who read by candlelight as a youth, gave us the Gettysburg Address after hurriedly writing it down on a small scrap of paper, and signed the Emancipation Act of 1863, freeing the slaves, and Martin Luther King Jr., whose famous “I Have a Dream” speech lives on in its written form, still inspiring us today.
Books give power to words and invite us to expand our world.
I did become an LPN and since that time have earned some college credits. My life was and is enriched because some authors chose to share their words in books.
Lewis Hellyer is the pen name of Jamie Lewis Hellyer and Darlene Eutsler Lewis, a mother-and-daughter writing team. Their new novel, a light romance titled On Butterfly Wings: A Journey of the Heart, is soon to be published. Jamie is working on her thesis for her Ph.D. in metaphysical science. Darlene is tackling manuscript preparation for publishing, promotion, and marketing. Darlene is also working on a memoir and a new romance novel and a republishing of her revised children’s book, Where Is Reice?