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.

Rose Anne Ferrandino

Manager of medical records; Community Volunteer

I took banking courses, and then I took medical courses, and then I worked for the state and you couldn’t advance if you didn’t have degrees.  And secretaries at that time took on a lot of responsibility, but they could never go further than the secretarial slot because they didn’t have the degree.  So I went back to school and I was on the twenty-year plan.  You know, I would work during the day and by that time they had – a lot of the colleges were offering night classes.  So I went to Quinsig [Quinsigamond Community College] for a couple of years and then I transferred to Northern Essex Community College where I got a degree in medical record technology.  So then I could be the boss of a medical record department in the state system, with an associate degree and accreditation as a medical records person.  So then from there I went to Worcester State College and I got a degree in Health Science, but I was retired when I got my degree [laughs].

Rose Anne Ferrandino was born in 1936 in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was the oldest of four children and grew up in a predominantly Irish neighborhood. Her parents sent she and her sister to Ascension High School, an all-girls' Catholic school in Worcester. She went on to take classes at Quinsigamond Community College, Northern Essex Community College, and Worcester State College. She married and had two children. Her husband died of lung cancer in 1996. She also has a grandson.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/30/2010
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Linda Forte

Teacher; First Generation Finnish-American

Being part of an immigrant population, and it’s funny you ask this ‘cause I was just talking to somebody else about this, there were not any of the bells and whistles you have today to help kids.  You walked into a classroom, you were labeled “immigrant.” You were put at the back of the room.  And I was telling someone the other day that I was sitting in the back of the room and as immigrants came in, they kinda put us together, just in the back.  And the girl they partnered me with, she came in and she was actually, literally off the boat from Greece.  And they put her with me and they’re like “You can help her” and I’m like “Oh my god, it’s all Greek to me” no pun intended.  [Laughter]  You know, I – and I’m thinking to myself, “How do I help -you know I speak Finnish, they’re not even close in language at all. 

Linda Forte is currently a fifth grade teacher at Worcester Arts Magnet School.  Although teaching wasn’t her initial career goal, Linda finds it rewarding and worthwhile to be able to make a difference in a child’s life.  She was the first of her family to be born in the United States, as her family emigrated from Finland. Although she faced no gender discrimination, she was discriminated against as the child of two immigrants.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/27/2010
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Hilda Hein

Professor of Philosophy; first tenured female faculty member at the College of the Holy Cross
I think that for the first few years, what people said about women was essentially true: that the A students and the F students were going to be men, and in between there would be a range of women, and that was true. I had a lot of B students – women – not a lot of A students, and I think it was largely because they were shy, they were overshadowed by the men, and it was hard work to get them to open up, raise their hand, talk, have opinions because they weren’t educated to do that, and it took a long time. And it took a kind of defiance of the norms, I mean, because you sort of had to almost violate them saying, “What do you think, Susan?” or “Miss so and so” or whatever it is I called them, [laughter] and that gradually changed over time, and I’m constantly aware of it even now. I mean, I thought about it when you called me, that women, young women now, more than older women my age, have a sense of entitlement. Of course the world is going to be there to provide their needs. That wasn’t true then. It simply didn’t enter into anyone’s consciousness.

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Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/06/2009
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Barbara Combes Ingrassia

Librarian and Educator, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Well, again I think I took the safe way, I didn’t take risks, I wasn’t a risk taker. I did what was expected. I think that I sort of fell into the work that I do, so I continue to look for my purpose and remind myself that life is a journey; it’s not a destination, you don’t arrive, you’re always continuing that journey.

Barbara Ingrassia was born in 1952 in New York. Her father had an Associate’s Degree in rural engineering and her mother had a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Few parents at this time had degrees, and both of hers did, so she was very proud of them. Barbara received a Bachelor’s Degree with a secondary in Social Studies from University of New York Geneseo. She also received her Master’s Degree in Library Sciences at SUNY Geneseo. She looked at education as her job and she put all her efforts into her studies.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 11/13/2009
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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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Scully-Hill

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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