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Bobbie Player

2019 A&M-Texarkana - Bachelors in Sociology and current Graduate Student

When Bobbie Player found herself in Dr. Kristine Yells’ Introduction to Social Work course, she knew she’d found her place. There was a spark. Something resonated, and she knew she had found her calling. It’s not an unusual occurrence for a college student to find their path in this way. It’s often a specific professor or course that points them down the road towards their life’s work. But at nearly 80 years old, Bobbie found hers a little later than most.

Born in 1941, Bobbie graduated high school in 1958. As a co-salutatorian of her graduating class, she earned a scholarship to Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas. Despite the scholarship, Bobbie was unable to afford the extra expenses associated with going off to college. So, she passed on the opportunity and went to work. “I always loved school,” she said. “I always wished I had gone on to college.”

Bobbie has held a number of professional positions during her career. She began working at a restaurant in the late 1950’s, explaining that “it was one of the very few jobs available to a young black woman at the time.” During her career she has worked as an insurance agent, as well as worked for well-known local employers like Day and Zimmerman and Red River Federal Credit Union. She had a cosmetics and skin care company for a while, and she has also worked as a real estate agent.

She was taking a break from real estate and working at a family friend’s auto detail shop when she met the love of her life, Victor. The two met in 1999 and were married in 2000. They spent four years in California, where Victor (originally from Texarkana) worked as a football coach, before returning home. “I never knew two people could love each other that deeply until I met Victor,” Bobbie said. “He was the one who always encouraged me to go back to college.”

Victor passed away in October of 2008. After some time, Bobbie (still thinking about Victor’s encouragement to get her education) enrolled at Texarkana College. She received her associate degree from Texarkana College in 2015 and enrolled at Texas A&M University-Texarkana to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She changed majors to sociology along the way and was named the Student of the Year in one of her sociology classes.

It was during this time that Bobbie took an intro to social work class with Dr. Kristine Yells, and something clicked. It was a natural fit. Bobbie loves to help people. Over the years she has developed a large network of friends she knows well and who trust her for advice and wisdom. When one of them had a problem, they called Bobbie for support and advice. They would often tell other friends about her, who would in turn call Bobbie as well. “There have been many nights when I listened to friends who were struggling. I would just lay on the bed and listen,” she said. “Sometimes I didn’t even know them.”

Bobbie graduated from A&M-Texarkana in 2019 with her bachelor’s degree in sociology. When the university added a graduate program in social work in 2021 she immediately began working on her master’s degree.

“As a faculty member, I love having Bobbie in class,” said Dr. Yells, Director of Social Work at TAMUT. “She asks intelligent questions and offers insight from a deep well of life experiences. She is always positive and has a warmth that makes other students gravitate to her. They all genuinely love her. They don’t just call her Bobbie. They call her Miss Bobbie, as a show of respect to her character and authenticity. She really is a one-in-a-million student,” Yells added.

Although not certain of what she will do after graduation, Bobbie’s heart is in helping people navigate issues concerning death and dying. She currently works as an intern at Heritage Hospice in Texarkana. “It’s a rewarding experience for me when a family lets me into their life to help them during a time of death or loss,” she said. “You have to have compassion and empathy to do this work. It requires a love for humanity.” She would like to eventually host death and dying seminars at businesses and large companies and says she would also like to help recruit students into the social work program at A&M-Texarkana.

Bobbie is perhaps the greatest example we have of never giving up on your dreams. It doesn’t matter when you find your path in life…just follow it. She may not know exactly where this path is taking her, but armed with a genuine love for people and a desire to help them, it’s pretty clear that everyone she encounters along her journey will be better for having her in their lives.
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