The Centralia College Foundation is pleased to announce Alicia Wicks, a 1964 graduate of Centralia College, as the 2017 Distinguished Alumna.
Shortly after graduating from Centralia College, Wicks served in the Peace Corps in Africa teaching English and African Literature. She went on to earn her master’s degree in education from Eastern Oregon University and her juris doctor degree in public interest law from Golden Gate University. During that time, she also taught at a migrant camp and a residential school for delinquent boys. She passed the California State Bar on her first try and worked as an attorney for San Francisco for 15 years.
She returned to Centralia at the death of her father. She adopted three special-needs children and, for the next 15 years, she administered the new Individualized Certificate Program at Centralia College.
Wicks believes in giving back to her community and is involved in Popes Kid’s Place, the Human Response Network, and Soroptimist International of Lewis County.
After her retirement in 2003, Wicks returned to Africa and worked with retired Centralia College President Hank Kirk and his wife Jenny at the University of Livingstonia in Malawi, where she assisted with the first graduation of teaching candidates. In 2013, she went to Liberia to work with girls in the slums of Monrovia, the nation’s capital and also the center for Ebola in Liberia. As part of her efforts there, she became involved with the More Than Me Girls School, which later became an Ebola hospital for the duration of the plague. She then went to Hohoe, Ghana, where she taught young unmarried mothers to sew.
Later that year, Wicks went to Kenya, where she lived with a transitional Maasai family and assisted Maasai women in earning a living with their beaded jewelry.
Wicks is the founder and director of Maasai Made and Karibu Beading Collective, two organizations that allow traditional Maasai women to sell their crafts in the U.S. Wicks uses the money from the sales to return to Kenya and further her work with them, providing food they cannot grow, sending their children to school, and taking care of their herd animals.
“My passion is to live with and assist the people I meet by giving them a leg up and hopefully introducing a skill they can take into their future, whether as a child or an adult … to show them somebody across the ocean cares about them,” said Wicks. “As an unofficial ambassador of the U.S., I am pleased to hear, ‘You are one of us.’”
Wicks will be a featured guest and speaker at Centralia College’s commencement ceremony June 16.