One Man’s Fresh Start Turned into a Life of Learning

February 14, 2023 | Tags: Community and Diversity

Struggling with addiction since the age of thirteen, Mark Nobles did whatever it took for his next fix, including robbery. He landed in and out of jail several times and lost part of his leg due to his substance use. A turning point finally arrived when Mark relocated to Ohio to start over.

A New Start

After he first moved, nothing was different. “I didn’t even make it an hour into the bus trip before using,” Mark said. That wasn’t the only bump in the road. “When I finally made it to Ohio, I once again found myself back behind bars, worrying a life of homelessness was imminent.”

Mark eventually found himself at a recovery house. Following a nudge from their Director of Ministry, he enrolled at Lakeland Community College. There, he first learned of College Now Greater Cleveland, an organization funded in part by Medical Mutual.

The College Now Program

The College Now program reaches students from middle school age through adult learners, 19 years or older. Focused on working to address barriers to higher education through financial counseling, scholarships, career success advising and retention services, College Now’s innovative approach was the first of its kind in the nation when it began in 1967.

Adult learners, like Mark, are quickly making up an increasingly large portion of college populations due to employment displacement, increased veteran benefits and increased access to rehabilitation resources.

A Brighter Future

Medical Mutual has funded College Now since 2004, but the relationship goes far beyond simple philanthropy. Medical Mutual employees engage with students both in secondary and post-secondary schools as mentors, sharing personal experiences and journeys to help guide and inspire.

Although his own story continues to be written, Mark recognizes the College Now program has been a gift, and that motivates him to pay it forward.

“The job I currently have was given to me by a second chance employer, and three years later, I’m still employed and go back into jails that [sic] I was previously incarcerated to share my struggles,” Mark said. “College Now has been an incredibly big blessing to me and I want my story and experience with them to inspire others that they can do it too. My success wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for organizations like Medical Mutual who don’t just see people’s pasts but our futures.” 

To read more stories like this check out our 2022 report to the community.