Stacy Ridgley returns to college to face fear of math

Stacy Ridgley
Stacy Ridgley

It could be said that you can run from your dreams but you can’t hide. They will find you. That could be the reality that brought Stacy Ridgley to Centralia College.

Ridgley enrolled in classes in 2010, to major in Spanish and fulfill her dream of becoming a Spanish teacher. But coming to college wasn’t all that easy.

“For many years I avoided going back to college. I graduated from high school in Vancouver, Wash., and attended Clark College for one year. I then went to business school and took accounting classes thinking that was the area I’d like to go into.”

It looked like a straight path to success, simply needing to stay the course but then Stacy “ran away” for 10 years and joined a traveling drama group, touring the U.S. and Europe.

“It was a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. Our group performed in churches, schools, nursing homes and prisons in the U.S., and in Europe we performed mostly in schools. We helped with English lessons by using drama in our discussions with the students and helping them to speak and learn English better.” During that time she married and had two children but after returning to the states, she found herself a single mom without a job.

“After I lost my job, I went back to school kicking and screaming! I spent 25 years avoiding going back to college because I was afraid of math. When I was in eighth grade, the school I attended skipped me forward a year in math and because of that I missed concepts that I needed. I believed that I could never again do math and I avoided going back to college because I knew I would have to take math and science,” Ridgley said.

She found her way to Centralia College, stared down her math phobia by taking pre-math classes where she acquired the concepts that she missed out on years before. Not that she’s solved all the mysteries of numbers, but she is taking college-level classes. “Not only can I now do math, but I succeed at it. I still prefer humanities, but I am no longer afraid of math.” The veil has been torn away. “Roberta Abarca (college math instructor) has a gift for making math accessible and she made me believe I could do it.”

When asked why she chose Centralia College, Stacy said, “I can walk to school and it’s economical for a single mom. I have been so pleased with my experience here. I think we have great professors. I used to have the idea that faculty thought of themselves as high and lofty and unapproachable but I have not had that experience at all.”

Let’s not forget that her dream is still to become a Spanish teacher. “I have really enjoyed Laura Yocom (the college’s Spanish language professor). I appreciate her enthusiasm for the language and for how she teaches Spanish. I appreciate the patience she has with the class. Laura expects the best and she gets it.”

Ridgley recommends Centralia College as a starting point for success.

“I would absolutely recommend Centralia College to others and am hoping my two children attend Centralia College. I think attending a community college is important, this is where you learn what it’s like to go to college. You can get your feet wet.

“I don’t regret the choices I have made in my life but I do recommend getting an education before taking on the added responsibility of having a family and raising children. If you do make the choices I made, Centralia College is a great place to come back to!”


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