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.

Cherisa Hernandez

High School Math Teacher

Women are very strong individuals. We’re not necessarily strong in strength, but we show our strength in other places. We are very compassionate and we are strong in that aspect. I am very compassionate about my job, I’m very passionate about my job and in my job I show compassion.

Cherisa Hernandez was born in1985 in Boston, Massachusetts. Originally from Trinidad, with her father currently residing in her homeland, she has lived in Massachusetts most of her life, but did attend some schooling in Trinidad. Growing up in the inner city of Boston, she was able to participate in the METCO program, allowing her to receive an education at a suburban school system, in Concord, which helped her achieve her educational goals. Cherisa did not always aspire to be a teacher; originally she planned on studying Pre-Law at Boston College.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 03/31/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Hernandez

Lynn Cody

Marketing and media administrator

I mean the fire was really something. It’s hard even explaining what it was like to people who weren’t here then. I feel like everyone was kind of connected to that in some way, you know. One of the families grew up around the corner from us so we went to grammar school with them. I mean it was pretty significant. I can’t think of anything on that same level. So it was [December 3, 1999] I believe and it was at night. I was at home, but my younger sister was at the Auburn Mall with her friends. And my mom had, was driving out to pick her up kind of at the beginning of all of this before they started shutting down the streets. On their way home they were redirected, they had to go a different way but on her way out to the Auburn Mall she took [Route] 290 like how you would just normally go to get out to the Auburn Mall. And she said that the heat coming off of that building, even on the far side of 290, she said it was so hot coming in the side of her car that she thought the window would burst. And at that time we, no one, I mean it wasn’t quite on the news it was kind of like, “Oh there’s a fire in Worcester.” You know, those kind of stories are on the news all the time, no one was really thinking anything of it. But I mean, parts of 290 and roads were closed for weeks.  It was really massive. I mean the building that came down was…I mean it was huge. And it’s weird kind of now to think about like now I just drive by. I mean I drive on that road every day. I drive on 290 every day to get to work. But it’s funny to think, “Oh my God, for half of my life I drove by a building that just doesn’t exist anymore and took six people’s lives and changed their families’ lives forever.” You know, I mean that’s pretty significant.

Lynn Cody was born in 1983 in the Burncoat neighborhood of Worcester, MA. She has resided in Worcester for the majority of her life, with the exception of the four years in which she attended Stonehill College in Easton, MA. She currently is head of dining services and social media at the College of the Holy Cross and is married to husband Ryan Cody. Living in the city of Worcester has played a significant role in shaping her as a woman and has caused her to feel a certain bond to her city.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 04/07/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Cody

Erin Bradbury

Lawyer; Owns law firm; Community Volunteer

My father  was the one who prepared me for college. He, from the time I was in the fourth grade and he realized that I had skills for academics, took me out – I’m sorry I’m crying – and purchased a  desk for me. And we didn’t have a lot of money, but he went out and bought me a brand new desk that I picked out because being a student was my only job. Excuse me, he encouraged me to look at Smith College. I wasn’t looking at any other single-sex schools and he asked me to look at Smith College and took me around to all my college interviews and helped me prepare the tape, my audition tape, for all the schools. He’s the one [who] went out and bought the equipment to be able to make a recording, I recorded a Mozart concerto and I played the flute part and then I learned the piano part which was condensed for an orchestra score and he recorded both parts. So, I accompanied myself on this audition tape. So my father was a huge contributor.

Erin Bradbury was born in Grafton Hill in Worcester in 1972. She attended Wachusett Regional High School, Smith College and Suffolk University Law School. She is a lawyer currently practicing law and owns her own practice in Holden, Massachusetts. Erin is a mother of two, a wife, and an active volunteer, and also has musical abilities. In this interview, she discusses her family aspects and how much they mean to her and how they influenced her life decisions. For example, she discusses how her mother was a “great debater” and how she taught her to stand up for herself.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 02/28/2014
Name Sort: 
Bradbury

Luanne Westerling

Associate Dean of Business Studies, Program Chair Business Communications, Nichols College

When you are comfortable you are not learning and you are not pushing yourself.  So sometimes you’ll be offered an opportunity, and I think women do this, they say, “Oh my God, I couldn’t possibly do that,” because I think we underestimate what we can do.  And so what I would say to you is, “Do it.  Put yourself outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.

Luanne Vardo Westerling was born in Meriden, Connecticut in 1963.  As an undergraduate student she attended Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Luanne says she began developing her leadership skills in college as a Resident Assistant and these skills later helped her to transition into careers in business and higher education.  Although she briefly considered a career in law, Luanne is very proud of her current position as Associate Dean of Business Studies and Program Chair of Business Communication at Nichols College which allows her to bring her leadership ski

Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/13/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Westerling

Caroline Lavalleee

Retired postal worker; mother of four

I think if the woman is qualified I think she should run for office because if you want the job well done you hire a woman.

Caroline Lavallee was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1936. She attended Oxford High School. She met her husband Norman Lavallee when she was twenty-two years old at a Polish Dance Hall. They married a year later and together they had four children. Caroline Lavallee worked multiple jobs; her most memorable was her position as a clerk in a Worcester Post Office where she retired in 1999. In this interview, Caroline discusses the struggles and joys of her life in the Worcester area.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 11/08/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Lavalleee

Mimoza Koshi

Bank branch manager; security officer;Albanian immmigrant

I could give advice to them that when the opportunity is there, they need to grab it and go for it. This is the country that the women have all the rights of this country that they can exercise all their – [long pause] all the freedom they exercise and everything so they'll be able to continue education, take care of family, and be someone in life.  I am proud of what I've done so far and always as I told you I meet a lot of people and a lot from different countries. And in Worcester we see a lot of newcomers who are immigrants from different countries and I’m always try to talk to those women, how they can become someone in this country. They have this opportunity. That's how I see it.

Mimoza Koshi was born in Tepelena, Albania in March of 1969. She came to America in June of 1999 along with her husband and two sons through a program called DV Visa. It is a program where a person is selected to come to the United States to work. After her arrival in Worcester, it took her a long time to adjust to the different culture and way of living. She spoke no English, but eventually learned through night school. Eventually, she enrolled in Assumption College and received her bachelor's degree for Business Administration in 2010. Today, she continues to work two jobs.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/05/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Koshi

Patricia Jones

Owner, P.L. Jones & Associates P.C.

I recall that I had mentioned the teaching mentor that I had who always said if you go to school and work hard you can do anything. And I would say going to school means continuous education. It doesn’t need to be a structured school, but it’s important that people are always learning. And I do think that it’s important for individuals in future generations to know that they need to contribute to their own destiny. It’s not something – it’s not an entitlement – and that they have to work for themselves to accomplish something. So that would be my advice – what was passed on to me. I would say continue your education, not necessarily that it needs to be in a formal setting and work hard by contributing to your own destiny.

Patricia Jones was born in Worcester in a neighborhood near Chandler Street.  She dropped out of school at age 16 to marry and have children.  When she divorced, she realized that her calling was to public accounting.  She attended Quinsigamond Community College and discovered she liked accounting. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University and later her graduate degree from Bentley University. Patricia Jones began working as a partner and eventually became the owner of  P.L.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/17/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Jones

Patricia Verderese

Teacher;Religious Education Director; Member of the First Class of Women at Assumption College

Well, when I first arrived here [in Worcester] in 1969…it was like a bombed out World War II city…And so that was my first impression…But over the years, I have come to realize that Worcester is a very great place…We’re members at the art museum and [involved in ] Music Worcester…The restaurants here—you couldn’t find any better in Boston…Every time we have a new person come to the city, or to visit us, we take them on a tour of Worcester.

Patricia Lucille Field Verderese was born in 1951 in Arlington, Massachusetts. She is connected to Worcester because she attended Assumption College in the late ‘60s and continues to reside in the area until present day. The major theme Patti reflects upon in this interview deals with her identity and what events helped shape it. Patti is a very hardworking and dedicated woman as seen by her participation in Assumption College’s first class of women. Patti discusses some challenges she faced with her Irish background, being shy, and her political and religious beliefs.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 03/26/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Verderese

Marianne Felice

Chair of Pediatrics, UMass Medical School

And I think of the department that I ran as a garden...I think of all the faculty that I’ve recruited as a flower. I could have had all roses…real flashy, but they have thorns, roses do. So you can have all tulips, but I think of the faculty in the department as a different kind of flower. Some need lots of sunshine, some need lots of water, some are going to be okay with benign neglect. They don’t even need you.

Dr. Marianne Elizabeth Felice was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 1943 and works at UMass Medical School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. She and her husband, John Giles, moved to Shrewsbury in 1998 when Marianne was offered the chair of pediatrics. Marianne has devoted her time to her job, advocacy efforts, and her husband. Networks of women have played an important role in her life and experiences, and she continues to value these relationships today. In this interview, Marianne reflects upon the struggles and joys of her life and experiences within the medical field.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/04/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Felice

Laurie D'Amico

Director of Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester; member of the first class of women at Assumption College

I remember in my first English class at Assumption, I had a teacher that was very liberal, and probably a non-conformist, and he wore sandals to class. I thought that was outrageous, and he smoked cigarettes all through the class. One of the first things he said, and I remember this so clearly, and I was so shocked, he said, ‘In order to grow up, you have to figuratively kill your parents,’ and I was…a freshman. I had never been in any situation quite like that…

As a contribution to the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project, we interviewed Laurie D’Amico who was born in 1955 in Rhode Island. Major aspects of Laurie’s identity were religious views, careers, college experiences, social changes, and major historical events. Laurie addresses religion during her college years where she attended church regularly. Currently she views herself as a believer, rather than a churchgoer.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/13/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
D'Amico

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