Thursday, August 1, 2019

I Had No Name

            I came to Worcester in 1967. I had just been married to my first husband to whom I was married for 20 years. I was a student at Clark University, having left Barnard [College] at the end of my junior year. Barnard was one of the Seven Sisters colleges and there was, at the time that I was there, a regulation on the books called senior year in absentia. It was so common for women to be married at the end of their junior year, that they allowed you to do your senior year elsewhere and still graduate from Barnard. So I came to Clark, did my senior year, and I was invited to do a Master's at the same time. So I did two degrees simultaneously. I have a Master's of Arts in Teaching from Clark and I have a Doctorate in Linguistics from Brown.
I remember going to the bank to obtain a mortgage with my first husband in 1969. The only way that a woman could qualify on a mortgage was as a nurse or a teacher. Otherwise, nothing. And the mortgage was written in the husband's name and Et. Ux., meaning "and wife." So, I had no name even.
I faced a challenge at Clark when I was the youngest on the faculty in Romance Languages. It was traditional at that point in time that the newest got the most freshmen load. And I have to say, I fell in love with that level. I think that's what propelled me into the study of Linguistics because it was basic language acquisition that fascinated me. The field I pursued was Socio-Linguistics, which was very new at the time that I received my Doctorate in 1985.
What was frustrating to me was that there was no department of Linguistics at Clark. I really had to form my own network there of psychologists, sociologists, and English. This was interesting, but I was really ready to make a change when I did. I'm still connected with all my colleagues, and I've made new ones.                                               
I now work with the Worcester Public Schools, creating partnerships with colleges and universities. Given that role, I have the privilege of being outside with people in the different colleges and universities. They're doing interesting things. I think one of the challenges and one of the successes has been building an awareness of a K [kindergarten] to 16 continuum, not a K to 12 and higher ed. And the people in K to 12 are the future clients of the people in the college and university system, and each needs to know how to cross the boundary into the other culture. I've seen so many connections made—faculty to faculty, student to student. It's been very exciting to see that starting to happen.
Gale Nigrosh
In Voices of Worcester Women

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Seeking Social Justice

      I went to Catholic school all my life.  I studied in the Philippines, so my grade school was done at the Maryknoll Sisters School, at the Maryknoll Grade School, and then I transferred to Assumption for high school, and I went to Assumption College in Manila for my undergraduate degree.  Then I went to the Jesuit University in Manila for my master’s degree in theology.  I went to school at a time in my country when we were under the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos.  The Assumption sisters were being very true to the charism of our foundress, which was that our education and our faith had social consequences, that we couldn’t be living in a situation of great poverty and of great injustice without somehow doing something with our education to make that better.  And our faith also demanded that we do something to change the situation of the poor and of the unjust political system we were under.  So I got very involved in social justice activities, and when I was in my senior year in college, I got arrested by the military and I was put under military arrest for four months.  I had to stop my schooling—clearly [laughs] since I was under arrest.  And then afterwards when I was released, I had one more semester to go in college and I graduated, but my family requested that I leave the country for a while because they never knew when I left the house in the morning, if I’d come back alive in the evening with the fear that I’d just be picked up by the military again. 
So I left for the United States, and I worked in San Francisco for a year.  But it was while I was in San Francisco, that I felt—I had been feeling the attraction to religious life for some time, but I never thought I could possibly be a nun, that I wasn’t holy enough, I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t—I just wasn’t made out to be a nun.  I wanted to have a family and I wanted to raise kids, and I had a boyfriend at the time and all, so I just didn’t pay any attention to it.  But it was while I was away from home and after the experience of the arrest, that I began to evaluate what really was important to me, and what were the deepest desires that I had, really, and I decided to face up to it and say, “Well I think God is calling me to be a sister whether I feel it or feel that I’m appropriate for it or not.”  And so I lived with the sisters in the United States for a couple of months just to observe their life.  And then I felt it was more and more confirming my call to religious life.  I returned to the Philippines and I entered there, but I guess the greatest challenge to my education was trying to put my education to work and to, to suffer, suffer in quotation marks, the consequences of that commitment to social responsibility, so that was it. 
I’m so glad I made the choices that I did.  I struggled over making them, but I am just so happy that I am a Religious of the Assumption, that I’ve become a sister with this congregation.  The congregation has been really, really good to me and has given me so many beautiful experiences of life.  Difficult things to say yes to—it wasn’t easy to say yes to come to this country and be away from all that I love and know in the Philippines.  It wasn’t easy to say yes to being provincial superior of this congregation in the United States, but I have drawn so much life and beautiful experiences that I really am just grateful.  I think that you know when we make our vows as religious, we make a vow of obedience and often it wasn’t very clear to me where saying yes to something would bring me, but trusting in the will of God, and the love of God, and in the wisdom of my superiors, I said yes and really I couldn’t have planned my life any better.  I’m just grateful to be here and having had the experiences that I have had and continue to have.
Sr. Mary Anne Azanza, R.A.
from In Her Shoes

Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Typical Life Right Now

I am part of the Worcester County Bar Association and I chair the Woman Lawyers Committee, which deals with trying to advance women in law, address whatever practice issues that they have, and provide educational opportunities as well.  I also co-chair the Juvenile Court Committee for the Bar Association, which deals with, again, juvenile court issues, policies, changes in the law, educational opportunities.  I volunteer as a lawyer for a day at Worcester Probate and Family Court once a month, for five or six hours at a time, helping people who can’t afford a lawyer to walk them through the process, and fill out their forms, trying to help them navigate the process.  I am on the board of the Elder Services of Worcester Area, which helps elders stay at home longer and provide services in their homes.  So, I have a lot of volunteer activities, and I hope that I have helped families and individuals and organizations as well.  That’s very important to me, to give back to the community. 
Erin Bradbury
From In Her Shoes

Thursday, October 11, 2018

10th Annual Event - Worcester Women Activists

Join us for our 10th Annual Event promoting the stories of Worcester women. Worcester Women Activists. Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 5:30 p.m. at Worcester Public Library.
Worcester, MA, home of the first National Woman’s Rights Convention in 1850, was known as a center of radical abolitionist activity and social reform in the women’s rights movement. Today it is still the home of many activists who fight for social justice.  Dr. Selina Gallo-Cruz and her students have conducted and transcribed over 20 oral histories of local women for the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project.  She and Milagros Montenegro will share what was learned in this collaborative project, including insights into the lives of these Worcester women activists and their contributions to nonviolent social change and community building.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Double Duty

One of my daughters has cerebral palsy.  She requires a lot of attention and time because she can’t do things herself, that at four and half, almost five years old, [she] should be able to do.  She’s come a long way from where she was, but she still needs help most of the time.  She can get herself dressed but she still needs help sometimes, not so much with feeding but getting on the toilet, getting off the toilet, brushing her teeth, putting on her shoes, putting on her socks, and walking.  Which is a huge thing, plus not only that, being an occupational therapist, there is a ton more pressure on me to--I know, I’m almost too much.  So, I know that if she’s going to walk, then this is the time to do it.  I may come home [from work] and work with her for a couple hours, spend a little time with Emily, her sister.  Or have Emily do the exercises with us.  Most of my time is either working, doing Meghan’s therapy, taking care of the kids, cleaning the house -- which is low on the priority list, to be honest with you -- and researching online, all the time, to see what’s out there.  You know, like going into a chat room.  I belong to a chat room for people who have CP [cerebral palsy].  Could be adults, kids, parents.  I spend a lot of time on there just kind of figuring out what is out there for people.  I should probably mention my husband in there.  I spend a little time with him [laughter].  I do spend some time with him as well.  But you know I don’t really go out; I don’t have time for leisure.  I do go to the gym in the morning, so I do balance that.  I do belong to the Leicester Parent Advisory Council.  Which is a special education advisory council for the special education department of Leicester and I’m the vice chair.

Lori Connolly
from Voices of Worcester Women

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Worcester Remembrances - Neighborhood Changes

We grew up right on the Worcester line. But it mostly changed a lot by development—like almost every place I guess. The Auburn Mall, which is there now, was never there. We lived right behind—and my parents still live there—right behind what’s now an industrial park. It used to be a sandpit when we were growing up, and it ended up becoming an industrial park and the other thing that was huge, that I think changed was that 290, the interstate highway, went right through where the industrial park was right behind our house. Maybe about—our street that we grew up on was a dead end so maybe like six more houses and then at the end of the road is right where the highway went through. There was a pond and I think you can kind of gauge the progress and what happened with the neighborhood a lot by the pond because when my mom grew up here, there was a dance hall and it was an active pond. People would come from all over the town to dance at the dance hall and have parties there, and so it was kind of like a resortish kind of place. And then as the pond got stagnant, and a lot of it I think had to do with the highway going in—with a lot of the development that went around the pond, that the dance hall went. We used to fish in it when we were kids, and now there’s just nothing worth fishing for in it. So we kind of saw that go downhill. So it changed in that way I think a lot. It’s still a community though. I still go, and everybody—the neighbors, their houses are very close together; a lot of the grandkids have taken over the houses.

From Voices of Worcester Women

Friday, December 15, 2017

Coming to America

The Worcester project annual event was a success. There was a standing-room only audience to listen to the stories of eight women who settled in the greater Worcester area from other countries. Read all about it in this Worcester Telegram & Gazette article.