GGC student achieves dreams despite medical challenge

Lisa Hicks

Hicks with symposium award 

When Lisa Hicks, 47, started attending Georgia Gwinnett College, she was in a wheel chair. Today, she walked across the stage and received her bachelor’s degree.

Hicks received an associate’s degree in criminal justice from a local technical college in 2009 after being diagnosed with Lupus in 2005 and realizing that she might not have many years left to pursue her dream of a degree. After a series of dialysis and chemotherapy treatments, her condition went back into remission, and she enrolled at GGC in 2010.

“GGC’s staff helped me with access and made my early experience a positive one,” Hicks said. “The faculty at GGC is brilliant and took a personal interest in my education and my research, especially my mentors, Dr. Beth Higgs and Dr. Stephan Desrochers.” 
"I realized immediately that Lisa was a remarkable student and asked her to work jointly on an independent project due to our mutual research interests,” said Higgs, assistant professor of anthropology. “I knew I could count on her intellectual drive, dedication and hard work." Desrochers, an assistant professor of psychology, also oversaw Hicks’ research project.
The research project resulted in a second-place finish out of 76 competitors at the Albany Regional Research Symposium. Hicks’ work highlighted female prison societies, and was rated based on an oral presentation about the methodology, sample and findings of the project.
“It’s gratifying to be recognized for my work integrating psychology and criminology,” Hicks said. “I want to make difference when it comes to resolving social problems.” 
It is a goal Hicks takes seriously. Her degree is in psychology with a concentration in social/applied psychology and a minor in criminology. She will begin a master’s and doctorate program at the University of Georgia in September.  
Hicks has not permitted her illness to slow her down. While at GGC, she received numerous honors including a nomination as Outstanding Liberal Arts Student for 2012-2013. She is a member of the Psi Chi honor society and received a Psi Chi scholarship. Hicks also launched and became charter secretary of Alpha Phi Sigma, a national criminal justice honor society that now numbers 20 members strong. 
An honor student, she is a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society and graduated cum laude. She consistently appeared on the Dean’s and President’s lists, and received a GGC President’s Scholarship. She also is a volunteer and committee member of Autism Speaks, a leading autism science and advocacy organization.
“GGC has grown rapidly, and there are many opportunities on campus,” Hicks said. “If a student can’t find a niche, then a niche can be created by the student. Be creative and innovative and good things will happen to you.”
Hicks has three grown children and is married to a fellow GGC student, Julian L. Ellis, who is a junior also majoring in psychology and also an honor student. The couple resides in Buford.
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