Pam Hurley

Student Story – Pamala Hurley

April 20, 2023

Pamala Hurley is not your typical college student. She graduated from high school in 1964 and decided to return to school at age 71 or 72 after her husband passed away. She’s 76 years old today.

“I kept telling people it takes a while to get a stone tablet,” laughs Pamala as she recounts the story of tracking down her original high school transcripts and diploma for her application requirements.

Pamala’s goal is to be a social worker

Pamala describes herself as a curious person who likes to take things apart to learn how they work. She is also deeply devoted to her faith, volunteering as a religious education teacher for many years and serving as the director of the religious education program at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Trenton, Ohio.

Pamala’s goal is to be a social worker. She sees the need first-hand as director of a community food pantry. She coordinates 25 volunteers who help people and listen to their stories.

“They need someone who can help them navigate the system. It happens at the pantry a lot; they need food, but they also need something else. And it’s frustrating for them; they know what they need but don’t know how to get it.”

Pamela hopes to graduate from Cincinnati State with her associate degree in 2024.

Like many college students, Pamala’s barrier to education was financial.

Pamala has two grown daughters and a grandson in the Air Force. One of her biggest worries about going back to school was figuring out how to pay for it.

“It’s not cheap going to college. I did not want to leave my girls with my college loan debt.”

As she looked for confirmation that she was making the right decision, she says the people and supporters of Chatfield blessed her. Pamala receives four scholarships from Chatfield, sponsored by Sr. Agatha Fitzgerald, Sue Hamann, Helen & Francis McNamara, and Theodore C. Wagenaar.

Jean McNamara, founder of the Helen & Francis McNamara scholarship, is a lifelong learner herself who started her last degree program at the age of 59. “It’s never too late to take the road less traveled!” said Jean.

The Chatfield Edge also worked with Cincinnati State to help Pamala secure a Federal Pell Grant to help pay for her continuing education.

Pamala says being the recipient of so much help gives her an extra-special responsibility and motivation.

“Someone else has invested in my education, which makes it even more of a responsibility to do the best I can. I also have a responsibility to future students. If the donors don’t see me using their money wisely, they won’t continue to give. So, as long as I have my brain and body, I will continue my education.”

She hopes her contact with younger generations of students in her classes and her experiences living through things they have never experienced make a positive and lasting impression on them as well.

We don’t see how it could not.

If you are a first-generation or non-traditional student who wants to gain success in life through education, learn more about our services and how The Chatfield Edge can help. If you have questions, contact David Hesson at or 513-875-3344 ext. 112.