My name is Eddie Howard Ratliff. I am 69 years old.
I grew up in Tylertown, Mississippi. I’ve been studying here over two years now. It’s a great program, and I want to learn more in order to use it in many facets of life. I hope to bring more knowledge to my neighborhood, to my church, to my city, to my state, and I would love to bring more knowledge internationally also.
It would help me -- as long as I have health, I can work using the computer with math, with English, with language, and also in writing and my spiritual walk of life serving as a pastor of the Gordon Feltus Lazard Memorial Church of God in Christ and the Holy Ghost Church of God in Christ.
So you think that ways that you might develop in terms of things you know about reading or writing or math will help you in those ways?
Yeah. I have learned a whole lot about English that I didn’t learn in my early days, like writing a sentence, using the signs like colon, semicolon, exclamation point, question mark, commas in a series, periods, start a sentence with a capital letter, indenting -- all these things I didn’t know before I came to Delgado. And I have learned these things, and I’m planning to earn the HiSET here at Delgado.
Let’s say you learn about colons or commas in a series in class. Do you find yourself then, out of class, having occasion to use that stuff you’ve learned?
Yes, but it’s serious to reprogram myself from coming up with broken English. So I find myself doing somewhat better, and I find myself using the knowledge that I use from being in class studying.
It’s interesting to me that you say, “coming up with broken English” because I know that, one, as a pastor, you must be very well read and used to speaking to people, and I know that when I talk to you, you’re one of the most articulate and well-spoken people I know. So, clearly you’re very strong at speaking in so many ways. What’s it been like to try to learn these other details? I don’t know how one could feel like they had broken English when they are so strong at speaking in so many different situations?
Well, in speaking: I spent eight terms in the Charles Harrison Mason system of Bible college, but the instructor told me that he was sorry that I didn’t get grammar. He told me, “You don’t have any grammar and I’m really sorry about it, but you can speak.” But he practiced getting a sermon book that I could read from the sermon book and preach.
And as far as reading from the Bible, comprehending the Bible: I have practiced that for over 40 years, so...you know, I do...good at it, but I’m not comfortable at it, you know? I want to be where I can become more practiced in writing a sermon, and also to write a book. I want to become practiced at writing a book about my life story.
Positive Mental Attitude
What’s it like to show up at school and be around all the other people, all the other adults, in your classes?
I love it, to be around the other students, because it creates a positive, constructive atmosphere [and] then it brings about a learning atmosphere. Some [of the other students] is above my level, some is on my level, and some of it -- it cause me to see if I can find the time to study.
You know, like now the way I live... My wife deceased in 2004. I married another lady in 2006. We stayed together about six months and we divorced. So going to school keeps me active, and I love to be active -- at work, at school, at home, at church. It keeps my life going.
In my computer class, my instructor is Ms. Nicole.
Ms. Nicole -- she’s an aggressive, outgoing lady. She tries to reach everyone in the class. In a computer class, it’s kind of an aggravating situation to get to everyone in the class, and I have a habit: I hold my hand up. At first, I probably will be a little loud to try to get the instructor to show me.
But I have learned a lot about basic computer, and my plan is to get where I can get through the IC3 [Internet & Computing Core Certification] Computer Fundamentals book so I can get back into the ACE [Accelerated Career Education] Program to keep doing some college courses after I pass the HiSET.
In my lifetime, you know, I studied a lot of PMA: Positive Mental Attitude.
And being a pastor for close to 30 years now, I’ve practiced looking for the best in people, and I’ve practiced -- studied -- saying the words that would help bring out the best in people, you know, in every area of their lives. Like, the total person. I’m not just concerned about the spiritual side of us as individuals. I’m concerned about the total part of humanity.
So, you mean that you, with purpose, try to do things that will bring out the best in other people?
For sure. Definitely. You know, like I say, in every area that I can. That’s one of my main purposes to be here to study: to be more relatable, to be more accurate in what I’m talking about. And that’s my reason for being here. And I don’t plan to quit. I plan to keep going as long as I can keep going.
I know that people love being in class with you. Do you get that feeling when you’re in your classes, that other people love being around you?
Yeah. And my practice is not to disturb the other students in no negative form. If I can say something that’s timely and encouraging and obey the instructor, just to be relatable in a constructive way with our classes.
I assume in your classes you’ve encountered students of all ages, yes?
They got all ages. Today, I was in a class with a lady -- she says she know about eight different language, and it was really impressive to me to hear the lady talk. And she said she practices positive and not negative, and I asked her where does she get her foundation to be positive from and she said she got it from her country where she’s from -- close around Vietnam.
I hear folks mention sometimes that you and Ms. Janice like to make a lot of jokes. Can I ask you about that?
Yeah. Ms. Janice -- Janice Carter -- I met her at Harmony Oaks Community Center, and she came here to Delgado, and I respect her in a whole lot of ways. She had, I think, about two or three kidney transplants, and she go through a whole lot, and she’s not a quitter. She just keep going, keep going on and on and on. You know, I communicate with her in a positive way. Sometimes I drop her off at home when her ride don’t bring her, because she keep going. And she got sick in this session, had to go to the hospital, but she said that she’s coming back -- the next term she’ll be back in school.
I hear she likes to give you a hard time sometimes.
Oh yeah, for sure. But I count it for joy, count it for love. I don’t take it negative in no form.
"Education Is A Great Help"
And I wonder: what would you say if you were talking to somebody else, especially maybe a little bit older person, who was trying to decide if they should go back to school...
...or if maybe other people were being discouraging to them about that -- maybe if other people were saying, “Oh, no, you’re too old,” or whatever. What would you want to say to someone who was giving that some thought and thinking about whether they should come back to school?
I would encourage them to come back to school, and I’m looking for methods in order to encourage adults to come back to school. I think it would be better for life in general. I think it’d be better for our communities. It’d be better for our homes. It’d be better for our inner city. It’d be better for our nation. Education is a great help. It’ll help us in our spiritual arena of life [and] physically. Education is a great help.
So often we talk about our communities -- especially the negative things that go on in the community -- and we talk about certain neighborhoods we won’t go in. But I tell ‘em, “I don’t run from bad neighborhoods because we make the neighborhood. The people make the neighborhood.” And if we change constructively, it’s gonna make our neighborhoods better, it’s gonna help our police department, it’s gonna help us as a nation as a whole.
Even though there’s a whole lot of negative things that’s goin’ on, a whole lot of crime, but we can be a help with the crime through prayer and [becoming] relatable to people in a constructive way to get them through negative things. I know we won’t reach all of them, but I think we can reach some of them.