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.

Catherine Woodbrooks

Vice President of Student Affairs, Assumption College

My mother would say things like, “You can do whatever you want to be,” or she’ll say, “You can do anything.” I think with women, because we don’t have a long history of doors being open, that you have to be very specific. So, when I work with students I try to focus on the gifts that they have.

Catherine Woodbrooks was born in Rumford, Maine on October 27th 1954, and moved to Worcester, Massachusetts in 2002 when receiving the position of Vice President of Student Affairs at Assumption College that she presently holds. She received her Bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and elementary education from the University of Maine Farmington, her Master’s degree from the University of Maine in Orono, and then went on to receive her doctorate in higher education from Ohio State University.
Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/22/2009
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Donna Connolly

Director, Worcester Educational Talent Search, Colleges of Worcester Consortium

I really loved it here [Assumption College]. I have made, I made a great group of friends and, in fact, this past weekend I was on the Cape with my, my “Assumption Girls” as I call them. There’s seven of us that go away at least once a year and you just feel like these are women that I really bonded with, but we’re different, we live in different places, we’ve had different experiences as far as marriages or anything else, but when push comes to shove these are people that I can count on in my life.

Donna Connolly was born on May 25, 1956. She is married to Timothy Connolly, and has two sons: Sean who is 22 and Mark who is 18. Donna grew up in Long Island, New York and first came to Worcester to attend college. She graduated from Assumption College in 1978 with a degree in social and rehabilitation services, and also graduated from Worcester State College with her Master’ degrees in Human Service Management in 1989.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/11/2009
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Stephanie Yuhl

College Professor

I never had a sense that girls were less than, but when I went to college I was an editor of the newspaper and I looked around the board table one day and realized I was the only woman on that board of twelve board I thought, “Where are all of my smart female friends? Why is this the case?” A bunch of us got together and started talking about it and we decided to start our own undergraduate feminist journal our senior year and in that process I realized how much resistance there was to the word feminism and to the idea of women speaking their minds and having interest in the politics that might concern women. So I think that I never was aware of it personally until I was at this very unenlightened elite university and suddenly you threw out the f word, feminism, and there was all sorts of resistance. And I think that made me even more interested in finding my own definition.

Dr. Stephanie Yuhl was born on September 17, 1966 in Santa Monica, California where she grew up in a large family of ten (five sisters, two brothers and her parents). Dr. Yuhl enjoyed being raised in Santa Monica because of the beautiful beaches, lively streets, and the diverse culture. She is the mother of her three children, Julia, Emmitt, and Phineas. Dr. Yuhl attended Georgetown University in Washington D.C. for her undergraduate degree and later attended Duke University where she earned her PhD.
Interview Date: 
Fri, 03/20/2009
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Susan Scully-Hill

College Professor of Human Services and Social Rehabilitation Studies

That’s the really, really, really hard part and I think that as women go, it’s so much harder for us. And I’m not like going to beat on men or be negative at all about a man’s role in life, but it’s very challenging to find balance, if not impossible to find balance, and I, as a woman, continually feel that I’m not doing enough or I’m not good enough or I feel guilt if I shortchange one area in my life or one person in my life. And sometimes it does get upsetting and frustrating when sometimes it feels like, as a woman you feel like you have to do so much more to be viewed as equal or as competent as maybe a male counterpart.

Susan Scully-Hill was born on October 20, 1963 in South Amboy, New Jersey. Having graduated from Michigan State University with her PhD and having worked as a professor at Emporia State University, she came to Worcester in 1998 in pursuit of a teaching position. Throughout the interview, Susan expresses her dedication to her work, her family, the Worcester community, and her efforts to balance each responsibility. She expresses feeling a heavy burden, as a working mom, to meet everyone’s expectations.
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Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/25/2009
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Susan Sabelli

College Professor and Clinical Coordinator of Human Services and Rehabilitation Counseling

I think that my generation of women are the ones that were able to start looking at themselves as individuals and were not bound by a lot of conventions that our mothers had to deal with. We were products of growing up in the 50s and 60s and that was the time when all types of things were possible to people. We were the ones that had job opportunities opened up. During the 60s and the 70s, it was a really exciting time. Women were not bound by the traditional rules, and were clearly not allowing ourselves to do that. So we flocked to education. And we were the biggest group of women who started coming into education and really sort of changed where we went.

 
Susan Sabelli was born in 1952 and grew up in Connecticut. She came to Worcester in1976 in order to attend graduate school at Assumption College and since graduating with her master’s she has worked at Assumption as a lecturer in Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies and as the Clinical Coordinator of Undergraduate Program in Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies and Graduate Program Rehabilitation Counseling. In this interview, Susan discusses the importance of education and the balance that she was able to have in her life between being a mother and a human services professional.
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Interview Date: 
Sun, 03/22/2009
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Brenda Safford

College Administrator, Director of Multicultural Affairs

They told me, 'You should go to college,' and at that point I was 38. So thought, 'It is over for me, I can’t, are you crazy? I can’t go to school now.' And they said, 'Why not?' And that is how I began my educational journey as a late learner, an adult learner.

Brenda Safford was born on August 5, 1956 in Lubbock, Texas. Moving to Worcester with her second husband, Brenda worked within the community and became an adult learner at the age of 38, receiving both her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Human Services. Brenda is currently the director of Multicultural Affairs at Assumption College. In this interview, Brenda speaks about her days growing up in Lubbock, Texas, and her experiences with both racial segregation and integration in her school system.

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Interview Date: 
Mon, 03/30/2009
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Debra Hopkins

President, Junior Achievement of Central Massachusetts

Probably when I was younger, success was defined more externally by allowing other people’s opinions to determine whether or not I was successful. The older I get, the more internal the definition has become and it’s really, do I feel good about what I did today or what I did this week.

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Interview Date: 
Fri, 03/20/2009
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Claire Quintal

College Dean, Founder of the French Institute, Second Female Professor at Assumption College

My first year [teaching] here, I must add, was difficult because they [the Assumption College students] were still all male. They were going to start accepting women the following year. And I remember when I first walked into one classroom, it was Intermediate French, and it was all boys, of course boys, men. And I could tell from their reaction that they thought Assumption had hit bottom, that Assumption College was really going to the dogs. They were against it; you know, the men who were here at the time did not want [the school] to accept women…… Let me say that that first year was interesting because I was teaching intermediate French and I was also teaching a senior seminar. And the senior seminar went famously, again all men. And I enjoyed them, and I am still in touch with some of them. But the Intermediate French [class]-they didn’t want to be there for one thing, you know when you really don’t want to study French, but you have to because it was the rule at the time that you had to have so many semesters of a foreign language. And then to have a woman in front of you besides. So that was a humbling experience, and it was balanced, luckily, by the senior seminar. They were more mature, they were leaving anyway, they were not going to have to worry about having women in the classrooms with them. And then in the second semester, I began teaching at Clark. And that was very important for me because the students at Clark were used to having women in front of them, you know as professors.

Dr. Claire Quintal was one of the first women professors at Assumption College. She never married because she chose a career path in lieu of a family, which in her generation were the only two options. She was born in 1930 to a loving Roman Catholic, French-Canadian family where French was her first language.  She grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where she had a happy childhood. Claire attended Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA, and graduated in 1952.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 03/17/2009
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Maureen Ryan Doyle

Freelance Writer, Property Manager, Member of the First Class of Women at Assumption College

What I found is that it is difficult to balance [both] businesses but also with family life. Because it is always a juggling act and it is for everybody. And there is no instruction manual on how to do it…and you know if you have a deadline and have two kids sick with the chicken pox, you have to find a way to balance the act. Not only balancing but keeping a happy home life and realizing this is life. And life's not a destination but a journey.

Maureen Ryan Doyle was born in Holden, Massachusetts in 1951 and attended Notre Dame Academy. She proceeded to be in the first class of women at Assumption College. Her sharp personality and desire to be successful led her to start her own businesses. She owns a freelance writing business and simultaneously manages property. Both of her careers have been very rewarding and she was determined to establish herself as a working- woman. Through her life she mentions how supportive her husband has been about her career paths.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/19/2008
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Judy Freedman Fask

College Professor of Deaf Studies, College of the Holy Cross; Sign Language Interpreter, Mother of Five

Go for it. Just absolutely, whatever your dream is or what you think your dream is, go for it, give it a try. And look at life as opportunities, meet people, make connections. I think that's the other thing, making connections with people and really appreciating who they are and looking for the gifts in people, which I love doing. I love doing that here at Holy Cross, because when I meet a student, if they have a talent they don't necessarily like to share it – because they definitely know I'll use it in some other program. People have so much to offer and I think that sometimes you have to look a little bit for it and other times you don't have to look so hard. But there's so much good in people, and everyone has some gift to offer and tapping into that is always really exciting.

Professor Judy Freedman Fask was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1958, but she always lived in Worcester, Massachusetts. She attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for her undergraduate degree and went to graduate school at Smith College and to Springfield College for a second master’s degree. She currently works as the director of Deaf Studies at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, but she has also worked as an interpreter. Professor Fask is married with five children, several of whom have health complications.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 12/04/2008
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