Maverick Hughes of Winona said his first day on campus at Mississippi State University intimidated him, but he was determined to complete the task he was there for -- to get his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management.
“I was scared out of my mind,” Hughes said.
Hughes started his freshman year at the age of 55. He worked full time, and he had a wife and children at home. However, he was determined to earn his college degree.
“It was 300 people in that class, and here I am way in the back trying to hear the teacher,” he said, recalling his first class, college algebra in Allen Hall.
However, he said with his faith in God, determination, and tutoring, he successfully made it through College Algebra.
“A lot of it I had forgot, but I made it out of there with a B,” he said. “I took Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Fundaments of Accounting; I took some hard classes,” he said.
Regardless of the subject, Hughes took his studies seriously with the mindset of someone who had already experienced the real world.
“I took this Intro to Art class, and the professor showed a picture of a green bell pepper and my professor asked me ‘What would you say was on this artist’s mind?’ and I said ‘I don’t know what was on his mind, I guess he was hungry.’ The whole class fell out laughing, even the professor. I still keep in touch with my professors,” Hughes said. “I took Entrepreneurship. That was hard. The entire class was writing a business plan from start to finish. We had to do it in groups, I don’t like groups. But, I had to do it.”
This was not Hughes first experience in higher education. He’d attended Holmes Community College in the 1990s and had achieved an associate’s degree with a concentration in engineering. This is what led to his career as a real estate appraiser.
“I needed one more class, and I did not want to come back another semester just to take one class,” he said.
Hughes said his advisor told him to look through the curriculum and see if there was a course that interested him, and he found Fundamentals of Real Estate Appraisal. The class met once a week for four hours from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and he said the class was taught by Chuck Thomas, who is also a certified appraiser.
Hughes is the first African-American real estate appraiser in Montgomery County. He said he became interested in the class and wanted to learn more. He said he went and obtained the education requirements that he needed and earned his experience hours with the help of the late Frank Herring of Winona.
Hughes has owned his own appraisal business for the past 25 years.
His business background helped when he went back to school at Mississippi State. While still managing his business, taking care of his wife, Dr. Katherine Ward-Hughes, and his children, Katrina Bays, Marcus Hughes, Rev. Tyone Hughes and Krystle Hughes, Hughes still managed to achieve his goal and receive his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. He said it took him seven years taking two classes a semester.
Hughes said in those seven years, he faced many challenges, but he fought his way through. A painful case of Shingles was particularly difficult.
“I never missed a day, never showed any pain. My wife took good care of me,” he said. “I went through three cars, never had an accident or got a moving violation. I thank God for that. I didn’t do any summer school.”
He said there were a couple of semesters he had to take off but he never stopped.
“They [students in his class] called me “uncle.” They said I was an inspiration to them, they loved me,” he said.
He credits his inspiration and motivation to keep going to his family.
“They’re my inspiration. My wife is my darling. She’s very educated. I go to her for advice. I go to my kids for advice, they’re an inspiration to me,” he said.
However, he said owes much to his relationship with God. He said his relationship with God is the reason for his success now.
“You have to have a strong relationship with God. He’s the reason for success. I’ve never been to New York, but you can drop me off with just that [his relationship with God] and $5 and give me 30 days. I may not have a house, but I’ll have an apartment, a car and a job,” Hughes said, laughing.
His other advice for those wanting to take the leap to college or to go back to college, “stay prayed up, treating people how they want to be treated and ask for help.”
Hughes said he hopes that he’s an inspiration to others, especially those younger than him, to show them that if he can do it, they can do it, too.
“I don’t know about any other schools, but I do know about Holmes and Mississippi State. If you ain’t got it up here [pointing to his head], you don’t have good study habits, you’re not enthusiastic about your homework because they’re going to give you homework, enthusiastic about your exams, you’re not going to make it,” he said.
“I finish with a 3.1 GPA,” he said, smiling. “I’m still learning even with my appraisal business. I’m still learning. I read, you have to read in order to stay abreast.”