Education

We are interested in understanding how women and girls in Worcester have experienced learning, both through formal institutions and through life experiences and relationships. This theme includes women and girls’ experiences within, and access to, schools and higher education, as well as other avenues to knowledge and skills.

Fran Lubin

Director of Volunteers, CASA; School Counselor, Worcester Public Schools; Member, Worcester Institute for Senior Education

So my first job after college, there was a new program that started here that dealt with courts and it was called Court Appointed Special Advocates [CASA] and we were guardians, they call them guardians by law actually, for children in the foster care system who had been abused.  And they really are neglected and they hadn’t really had anybody to speak for them. I was the Director of Volunteers, all were volunteer except for the two paid people, me and the director and we trained them to be advocates, they had to undergo extensive training and then interviews with the kids and everybody involved in the case, write a report, go to court, and it’s still in existence.  It’s a national program, and we started the one in Worcester in 1980 actually, and I was there nine years. That was my first experience, and I did enjoy it, I loved the people. They gave themselves, in a very stressful situation with kids and the courts, very frustrating, but I did love it.

Frances Joan Lubin was born in 1938 in Portland, Maine, where she attended both primary and high school. She then went on to Simmons College to pursue her undergraduate degree in psychology. Fran was married in 1959. She then moved to Worcester, where she would eventually pursue a master’s degree in school counseling at Assumption College and become a social worker.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/16/2019
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Gabriele Goszcz

Optometrist; Psychiatric Social Worker

Don’t give up who you are to try to please somebody else.

Born in 1947 in Germany, Gabriele Goszcz immigrated to Plainville, Connecticut, with her family when she was six years old and moved to the Worcester area as a grown woman after marriage. She earned her bachelor’s degree and Master’s in Social Work from Smith College, which prepared her for a career as a psychiatric social worker and later, an optometrist. Gabriele expresses her love of helping people as an optometrist. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Worcester Art Museum, and volunteers at Art Reach.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/03/2019
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Martha Grace

Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court of the State of Massachusetts; Member of Worcester Institute for Senior Education

I mean, the best thing about becoming a judge, especially a juvenile judge, was I always had, and I still have, a sense of having made a contribution to society and making a difference in people's lives. That was the most—I mean it was impossibly hard. The stories that I heard about children being abused, being sexually abused, being physically abused, seeing kids in front of you having done horrendous things and looking into them and realizing they have no shot in life.  They didn’t understand right from wrong. Yeah, it was, it was a very powerful job. It was hard.

Martha Grace was born in 1940 and raised in Providence, RI attending primary, secondary, and eventually collegiate level schooling in Providence as well. Soon after graduation, she decided to move to Worcester, MA with her husband because of his profession at the time. Shortly after the move, she had two children and was looking forward to continuing her education. After having her first child, and being turned down once already because of their fear of her getting pregnant, she attended Clark University and studied history.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 09/27/2019
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Melinda Marchand

Professor of History, Clark University

I think that it’s such a great learning experience for me to be interacting with people of your generation and I love teaching.  I teach writing history, I teach U.S history, I teach women’s history and I’m very passionate about my subject matter.  I love my students, I love my subject matter, and my dissertation which is the other element of my job at Clark.  I’m writing an intellectual and cultural biography of a woman who was a 19th century reformer who spent time in Boston and in Worcester which is really cool and I didn’t realize how many synergies there would be when I started working on this project.  But I’m very passionate about that and the things that she tried to accomplish for women that really have been swept under the rug because no one has really ever heard of her. Her name is Caroline Dall.  So, she’s a real character. She really believed that women needed to be empowered to work even more importantly than they needed to be empowered to vote and so she spent a lot of time trying to find ways for women to become professionals in a lot of industries and ways for working-class women to have more fulfilling work themselves. She’s really an interesting character.  

Melinda Marchand was born in 1968 in Newton, Massachusetts. She first arrived to Worcester in 1990 after graduating from Syracuse University and was hired by a company, 440 Financial Group. While working at 440 Financial Group, she attended Northeastern University to obtain a certificate in technical writing and software programming. After this accomplishment, she decided to pursue her master's degree in history. She attended Harvard University's Continuing Education program. After this, she attended Clark University’s Graduate School in the History doctoral program.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/22/2018
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Caitlin Lubelczyk

Director of Communications and Alumnae Relations, Notre Dame Academy; 40 Under 40 Award from the Worcester Business Journal.

I leave work and I feel good and I can’t wait to go into work the next day. And I love being able to be a part of growing the school, and telling other people about the school, and telling people that they should send their daughters to this school because they’ll get a phenomenal education and they’re going to become strong, independent women. And really it’s a phenomenal place and I’m really happy to be back.

Caitlin Sargent Lubelczyk was born in Worcester in 1982, grew up on Chester Street in 1988, and attended Notre Dame Academy in 2000. Caitlin met her husband in 2008 and she has a daughter named Olivia who is almost eight. She and her husband moved to the Burncoat area and just recently she began working at Notre Dame Academy in 2016 as Director of Communications and Alumnae Relations. In 2016 she was awarded the 40 Under 40 Award from the Worcester Business Journal. Caitlin has made changes in her career that she is grateful for.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/03/2018
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Regina Wolanin

Teacher, Dental Assistant, Secretary

So, I saw in the newspaper, used to be the Girls Club--where it’s Girls, Inc. now, it was the Girls Club--they’re looking for a sewing teacher and a cooking teacher. I can do it! So, I applied for the job! I said, “I do sewing, I do cooking, and everything else.” So, they hired me. So, I was a sewing and cooking teacher. And, just looking through my papers, I’ll have to let you read it because I can’t say the whole thing. When looking through all my junk stuff and everything, I came across this little thing that I saved and in it, one of my former students, when she wrote this she was 17, and I almost cried reading what she had written about me.  But anyhow, so I worked there for, oh, 24 years.

Regina H. Wolanin was born on October 29, 1926 in Webster, MA. Her parents immigrated from Poland.  She grew up in the Vernon Hill section of Worcester, which was the “Polish” section and went to school at Saint Mary’s and then Commerce High. Regina started working upon her graduation from high school and never attended college. Her family was rather poor, but they had a rich family life.

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Fri, 09/09/2016
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Donna Crocker

Teacher; Member of Worcester Institute for Senior Education

Be yourself. Be strong. [laughs] Be ready and don’t be too hard on yourself. I think that women are coming to a point where they can feel stronger and express that. I would say also have a sense of humor; don’t expect to be perfect. Realize that most of the time life is good and do your best.

Donna Garrison Crocker was born in San Antonio Texas in 1944.  She moved around quite a bit as a young girl growing up, as her father was in, what was referred to at the time, as Army Air Corps during World War II. She and her family ultimately settled down in Weymouth, MA where she would later meet her husband. Donna now lives in Uxbridge, MA with her husband and the two of them regularly attend WISE [Worcester Institute for Senior Education] classes at Assumption College in Worcester.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/03/2019
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Roberta Corn

Special Education Teacher; Counselor for Survivors of Domestic Abuse; WISE Member

I've always liked knowing people of different backgrounds and different cultures. I think that's a really important part of who we are as people, that we are much more connected and much more similar than we are different.

Roberta “Bobbi” Corn was born in 1945, in Belfast, Northern Ireland immigrating to the United States as an infant. Bobbi moved from state to state, she eventually settled in the Greater Worcester area over 20 years ago. Being of Jewish descent, she attended Hebrew school on Saturdays, while also attending Springfield High School during the week. After high school, she attended Penn State where she received a bachelor’s degree in English, and also met her husband.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/07/2019
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Sandra Congdon

Phone Company and Ecotarium Visitor Services; Community Volunteer; Member of WISE

I would say learn everything you can, and don’t put boxes around what you learn. Even though when I was working for the phone company I was learning how to talk to people, that fell over the edges of the box and led me to other things. And experiment, and explore. I go to Europe every spring, me and a bunch of my friends, and we love it so much and we get out and we went to Scotland, we ate haggis [makes disgusted look]. But I mean if I’m going some place I have never been before, then I’m going to do what is there, I’m going to eat some weird thing that I’ve never heard of before, or that I’ve heard of and thought “Oh that must be awful.” Just don’t shut yourself down, keep yourself open to all new experiences, and learn, learn, learn as much as you can.

Sandra Jean Whitehouse Desaulniers Congdon was born in 1945 in Storrs, Connecticut where she attended Ashford Elementary School, E.O. Smith High School, and the University of Connecticut. However, she withdrew from the university when she married her husband, had a daughter prematurely, and began a career at the local telephone company. She lived in numerous small towns around Massachusetts, but when the company relocated to Worcester, MA, she moved with them.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/14/2019
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Ann "Cookie" Nelson

Author; Designer; Co-founder, Worcester Children's Theater; Member of WISE

 Anger is never, ever productive, ever.

Ann “Cookie” Nelson was born in 1937 and grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Ann was married in 1959 and later had two children, and now has three grandchildren. Through this period of her life, she balanced family life with a career in writing. She wrote many travel  articles, was a food critic, and ultimately was the author two children’s books. As an active member in the Worcester W.I.S.E. community, she organizes fundraisers. At a young age, Ann developed a passion for the arts which eventually led her to act in two television commercials.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/11/2019
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