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