Faith Sparks Hawkins was born in Forsyth County, North Carolina, on 22 February 1927 and raised in Wilkes County. She was the fourth of five children. She graduated from Wilkesboro High School in 1943, and worked in a local store before attending nursing school.
From 1944 to 1947, Hawkins attended nursing school at H.F. Long Hospital in Statesville, North Carolina, through the Cadet Nurse Corps. She then returned to North Wilkesboro and worked in obstetrics and delivery at Fred C. Hubbard Hospital, and also did another year of training at Queens College in Charlotte. Hawkins also worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in the late 1940s and the Crile Veterans Administration Hospital in Ohio in the early 1950s.
Faith Hawkins married Hal Hawkins in 1950 and had four children. They lived in Wilkes County, where Hal Hawkins had a medical practice and Faith Hawkins continued her nursing career.