Wayne Hill

In 1972 I dropped out of high school and started working in the auto industry in Detroit, Michigan. I worked at General Motors 25 years, retiring in 2009 as a production technician.

When I started at GM, I was practically illiterate, reading at a second grade level. I worked on getting my education and, through a program the company had, I walked across the stage at Godwin High School in 1997 in my cap and gown.

After my retirement, at age 56, I heard about a union program that would help pay college tuition, so I took advantage of this at Grand Rapids Community College. I did courses in computer skills, writing, math and reading and it helped me to overcome some of my fears about continuing on to college.

Wayne HillI received my gerontology certificate and I graduated with my liberal arts degree in June 2014 and once again walked across the stage.

After an internship at a senior center, they did hire me. My responsibility was to plan activities for the seniors to get them exercise. A close friend of mine has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and I now spend a lot of time with him to make sure he eats, takes his meds and to make sure hospice is doing their job and advocating for his family. With my experience and training from the gerontology program, I have felt a passion in helping elderly who cannot help themselves.

My encore experience has been so satisfying working with young people of different cultures while in school, and with seniors from different backgrounds. I don’t feel inferior or frightened to sit down and have a discussion with well-educated people. It hasn’t been easy, but now in my 60s, I know I have the experience to be an advocate for seniors, to plan and organize for my community.

This is what the encore work is all about learning to know your passion, your gifts and talents, and not settling for working at Wal-Mart. I can truly say, as a man of integrity and passion, I have fallen in love with learning and I will continue on until the day I die.

I will now enroll in a Master of Arts Ministry Leadership Program At Grand Rapids Theological Seminary of Cornerstone University.