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. When her company provided scholarship funding, Sandra earned a BA degree at Clark University, where she majored in environmental sciences and minored in women’s studies. Here she says she learned for the first time the discrimination that women were facing in the world, while also getting to study what she loved, the ecosystem. After graduating, she began working at the EcoTarium of Worcester where she said she fell in love with her job finally. Sandra appreciates the cultural diversity Worcester has to offer and stressed how much she appreciates meeting others of different backgrounds everywhere she goes. She enjoys doing this through the Unitarian Universalist church she attends, which is also where she met her current husband. Together they volunteer as docents at the local art museum, and also at the city’s library. She acts as a caregiver for her husband as he battles cancer to ensure he is comfortable. Sandra elaborates on how her experience with her husband’s cancer has changed her perspective on life and has allowed them to enjoy the things they love together more than ever.