26Oct Legacy Preserved in New Scholarship Fund by Wendy Weichenthal (Marion) Carolyn Files served the Marion community for decades as a nurse and public health worker. Her son, Scott Files, and his wife, Tammy, started a scholarship fund in her memory. “We wanted to honor her memory and help in the local community,” Files said. “This may give someone an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise and they can go and better themselves and touch the community in a positive way as well.” The Files aimed the scholarship at nontraditional students like his mother. Carolyn Files had three children when she started taking nursing classes at Marion Technical College and The Ohio State University of Marion in the 1970s. As a child in elementary school, Scott Files remembers accompanying his mother to classes when she didn’t have child care. “At times I was the test subject for people checking the pulse and blood pressure. I spent a lot of time at Marion Tech and fishing in the pond,” Files recalls fondly. Carolyn Files early in her nursing career. Carolyn Files graduated from Marion Tech and then worked at Marion General Hospital in pediatrics. She kept caring for our community’s children as a nurse at Marion City Schools for nearly a decade. After that, she joined the Marion City Health Department, bringing vaccination clinics and other health services to children in all parts of the county. “I remember helping her on Saturdays to prepare for vaccine clinics in rural and remote parts of Marion County. I’d help with set-up and tear down. She spent a lot of time making sure the services got to the people who needed it,” Files remembers. Files said his mother cared deeply for the children and families of Marion County. “She was kind of a part-time social worker. She would encounter people and families in dire situations and she would do things to get them help. She would also see the need and bring a bag of groceries or diapers. It was just her nature to be that way,” Files said. Files said his mother encouraged her children to care for their neighbors. “She instilled in me the way she looked at situation. She asked, ‘What can you do? How can you improve it?’ I’m grateful for that lesson,” Scott Files said. Files said his mother was inspired to give after a tornado flattened his childhood home with Carolyn and her three children inside. The family was living in Madison, Indiana. They were preparing to move to Marion, Ohio, after his father accepted a job at Marion Power Shovel. “Literally, my first memory as a three-and-a-half-year-old kid was of an emerald green sky and then our house getting destroyed,” Files said. While the family wasn’t injured, Carolyn Files was touched by the way her neighbors came together to help the family after the loss of their house and possessions. Carolyn Files used that gratitude to guide her community efforts. Tammy and Scott Files Files said his mother also instilled a value of education. While Files remembers seeing her in the classroom, her nursing degree gave the family extra income and they used it to invest in their children’s education. “Mom paid for me to go to college. That made an impression on me. We have three kids. We’ve continued that. What a positive difference that made in our lives to be able to do that without carrying over a big debt,” Files said. “I earned some scholarship money, but mostly was my parents investing in my future. That made a big difference.” As an engineer, Files said he focuses on analyzing the costs and benefits of different business investments. He says attending Marion Technical College is a great opportunity. “A community college makes so much more sense. We need skilled workers of all types. We need med lab techs, especially during a pandemic. You don’t need to go get a four-year degree to do it! That’s where a community college really shines. You can clearly see the line from degree to career to return on investment,” Files said. As college costs have increased, Marion Tech is one of the lowest options at just $190 a credit hour or about $5,500 a year, which is a fraction of the cost of tuition at many state universities or private colleges. In addition to being affordable, Marion Tech offers high quality classes with hands-on labs, small class sizes and experienced faculty focused on teaching. “Having small classroom sizes, hands-on experience and professors who notice if you show up helps our students succeed. It reinforces why community colleges can be so beneficial especially for students right out of high school,” Files said. Marion Tech can also be a path to a four-year degree. Scott Files’ sister came to Marion Tech in the 1980s and then transferred to the University of Cincinnati to complete her bachelor’s degree. While Files currently lives in Columbus, Indiana, he has fond memories of growing up in Marion, working his first job at Rocky’s Cyclery and graduating from Pleasant High School. He is excited for this chance to give back to Marion by offering a scholarship to a second year, nontraditional student in nursing or another health field. “It seemed like the right thing to do. We can help in that way and we’re glad to do that and appreciate that,” Files said. While Carolyn Files died in July 2021 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, her memory and legacy live on in the lives she touched and the example she set for others. Scott and Tammy Files hope the scholarship will encourage students to complete degrees for many years to come.