What would my next chapter look like?
I had no idea
Fortunately, my life has been all about reinvention – and it hasn’t been a smooth ride. From figuring out how to re-sew school uniforms as a 12 year old to make them look new since I grew up with little money in St. Vincent to arriving in America at age 19 with no money, no car and no clue how to get a higher education, I learned to never give up and to be creative about how to arrive at my destination.
Another reinvention occurred when after 12 years of marriage and three daughters under the age of 10, I was faced with a divorce and became a single mother with no child support. For decades, I blamed my ex-husband for everything - the struggle to support three kids on a small salary, to feed and clothe them, to figure out house repairs and how pay for their college educations. Decades later, I was able to re-evaluate my life see the gifts that my struggle brought me. I reminded myself that the people who hurt us, help shape our whole future. If I was going to blame him for all the “bad” things that happened, I had to blame him for the “good” too.
I realized my drive, my determination, my willingness to fight to be all I could be was because of my divorce. It was my struggle that made me who I am – an extraordinary and successful woman who emerged from the storm with a new dream and vision for my life.
AARP Purpose Prize Award
After recalling my ability to reinvent myself in the early days of my early retirement, my calling soon became evident. I was moved by a research study by AAUW (American Association of University Women) called “Why so few women are in science, technology, engineering & math (STEM).” A light bulb went off. I decided to join the movement to help close the gender gap in the sciences. I found my purpose and passion and realized that all of my previous training as a teacher, counselor, and administrator had exactly prepared me for this second career.
So I founded Saturday Academy to empower young girls to blaze their own path in STEAM fields and my efforts have since been recognized and featured in CBS and honored with Community Innovation & Leadership Award. The biggest recognition of my work was the AARP Purpose Prize award. More importantly, approximately 40,000 elementary, middle and high school girls have gone through our programs and are better prepared to meet 21st century challenges.