Making A Difference: Everyday Hero Hazel Whitney
Mrs. Hazel Whitney has made a difference with so many by sending them to college.
When it was suggested that we do a story on Mrs. Hazel Whitney, the statement was made, “She sends a lot of young people to college.”
Well once I talked to her it became very clear that the statement was “more” than true.
Mrs. Whitney began teaching in 1953. She stated that her profession as a teacher not only put her in contact with students, but also connected her with their lives. For early on it became obvious in her spirit that this was her ‘calling’, helping students get to another level. That level happened to be getting them into college.
At the beginning of our conversation I asked how many student she helped get into college; she said around 10 or so. But then as we started talking and she began remembering, we lost count. Now what makes her efforts so unique is this was not arms length assistance. These young people lived in her house.
As students came across her path, based upon their individual circumstances, her house became a “revolving hotel door.” She tutored them, helped with their college applications, fed them, cloth them, counseled them and provided some form of finances towards their education. Her husband, the late Rev. Samuel L. Whitney used to say, “I don’t know what my wife is going to do next. But I do know it will be around getting somebody into college and feeding them along the way”.
One student, Georgette was from Cameroon, Africa. She spoke French and very little English. She wanted to go to Med School; Mrs. Whitney taught her how to speak English. She is now an anesthesiologist in North Dakota. Another Student, David attended a revival that her husband preached in Liberia. Several weeks later they received a letter, he wanted to come to America to study oil engineering. Can they help? He now lives in Texas, working as an oil engineer.
Then there was Mademoiselle, a French Aborigine, her brother’s child, who came to live with her. She ended up in The Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated as a computer engineer.
As a counselor at the Ross Hill Academy, in Detroit, she would take her salary and buy life necessities for many of the students. Her husband always made up the shortfall. One student who was having difficulty with her guardians ended up on her doorstep. She took her in, tutored her, helped her select a college where she minored in chemistry and is now on the way to becoming a doctor. Another was successful in getting in a college in the south. But she was timid about going. Mrs. Whitney got on a train with her and took her.
The list goes on and on. Mrs. Hazel Whitney is an amazing lady, who has made a difference in generations to come by having her house serve as a haven and springboard for young folks to move to another level by becoming a college student.
-By: Rev. V. Lonnie Peek, Jr.-