Hungarian Immigrant-Turned-COTC Lifelong Learning Institute Member Overcomes Obstacles to Keep Her Mind Active

​​NEWARK, Ohio, January 14, 2016 – Erika Taylor of Columbus has spent her entire life learning about new people, new cultures and new ideas.  That's why she believes the Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) is a perfect fit for her. Taylor is 73-years-old and she's overcome too many obstacles in life to let a little thing like age stop her from continuing to grow her mind and spirit.

"I was born Hungary during World War II," said Taylor. "My grandfather was on the communist hit list because he was a police officer, so we had to leave."

Taylor and her family ended up in a displaced person camp in Germany. They wanted to come to the United States but needed an American sponsor.

"Two of my aunts were already in the United States," said Taylor. "We ended up being sponsored to come to America by Catholic World Services. Eventually our entire family, including my aunts, ended up in Lorain, Ohio."

Taylor went The Ohio State University and graduated with a degree in education. She worked in Franklin County and eventually became the Bureau Chief for Adult and Senior Services with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. 

"After I retired, my husband passed away. My friends kept telling me that I needed to join this group, the Lifelong Learning Institute, that offers courses for senior citizens in central Ohio," said Taylor. "I decided to try it out in 2007 and loved it. I was able to learn about any and all topics. I also met all kinds of different people with different backgrounds."

There is a year-round LLI menu of programs and non-college-credit courses, as well as film studies, book discussions, field trips, and events that focus on everything from the arts, literature, philosophy, and science, to languages, technology, spirituality, economics, and local, national, and world affairs.

Not too long ago, Taylor met a couple in the checkout line at a store.  The man told Taylor to move in front of him in line because they were retired and had nowhere to go and nothing to do.  "He told me that their children thought he and his wife were useless," said Taylor. "I told him that wasn't true and told both of them that they needed to come to LLI.  They attended the next course and had a great time."

The 2016 spring course catalog, available now, is filled with courses and programs ranging from Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery, Lake Erie Critical Issues, and Pilot Dog Training Process; to Veterinary Medicine & Pet Therapy, Medicinal Herb Growth, and Internet Shopping and Cyber Security. The classes often range from between forty to seventy participants in each session.

An upcoming LLI course is titled "Slavery by Another Name – A Documentary Study of The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II," and will be presented by James Pearson on Tuesday, January 12, from 1:00pm until 4:00pm, at the COTC Pataskala Campus, located at 8660 E. Broad St, in Reynoldsburg, OH. The Documentary Film "Slavery by Another Name," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and on the national PBS broadcast shortly thereafter, challenges one of our country's most cherished assumptions - the belief that slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The documentary recounts how in the years following the Civil War, insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, keeping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in bondage, trapping them in a brutal system that would persist until the onset of World War II. This course will consist of an introduction to the film with supplemental investigation and a question/answer discussion, plus participants will be entered into a raffle of the book upon which the film was based.

"I have found that LLI provides interaction, socialization, fun and learning, all at the same time," said Taylor. "It's wonderful!"

First time guests of the Lifelong Learning Institute are invited to participate for free during their first session. Refreshments are offered at no cost. To register for the January 12 course, or to learn more about the Lifelong Learning Institute at COTC, contact Vicki Maple, Director, at phone 740-364-9565, or email  Information is also available online at​

Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential.  COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.