Work

“Work” is a value-laden term that has changed drastically over time, particularly in relation to women’s daily lives. Despite a legacy of opinions to the contrary, WWHP views women’s work as inherently valuable, whether taking place in the formal structure of paid employment or the private realm of home and family. We seek to understand each woman’s work on her own terms in her own words.

Susan Tellier

Management Engineering Officer, U.S. Air Force; College Finance Officer, Member of WISE

And I have to say one thing about being in the military was, it taught me an appreciation for business because I had been an English and philosophy major. And I had no use for business. And then I could see the work that it took to keep something like the Air Force going. And they, at the time, really embraced good business practices. So, I came out with a greater appreciation for business, and I thought well I think I'm going to go to University of Chicago and get an MBA. I spent two and a half years doing public accounting…It was very interesting because one day I could be at a bank, and the next day a chocolate factory, and the next a stamping and forging factory--it was fascinating.

Susan Tellier was born in Kingman, Arizona, in 1949, and is the former Vice President of Administration at Nichols College. She grew up in Rochester, New York, and attended elementary and high school there. Susan was married during her junior year of college and moved to Massachusetts to attend UMass [University of Massachusetts]. She and her then-husband graduated from college, and both enlisted in the military, just as the Vietnam War was coming to an end.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/03/2019
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Janet Shainheit

Peace Corps Volunteer, Nigeria; Teacher;Librarian

Am I satisfied with my life? Yeah, yeah I am. I like the people I know. I write poetry and I’ve been able to do that successfully…I have been a teacher in the U.S. and in Nigeria with the Peace Corps, and I was a librarian, too. It’s been a pretty good life.

Janet Shainheit was born on July 4th, 1940, in Montague, Massachusetts. She attended high school in Turners Falls and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. Janet met her husband in college and moved with him to Worcester in 1974 where she began working as Worcester Academy’s librarian  Before moving to Worcester, she joined the Peace Corps in Nigeria, which she loved. She lived in Nigeria for two years teaching English in a school in a small town.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2019
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Catherine Samko

Clinician and Administrator, state psychiatric hospitals for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

I think success is being happy in your life and having a purpose to your life. Having good family relationships, that’s probably what I think success is. When I was younger, I probably thought it was more about career, money…I probably have not always made the best choices, but I think that anything that I have done has made me into who I am today.

Catherine Lacouture Samko was born in 1952 in Framingham, Massachusetts.  She grew up in Marlborough surrounded by family and then eventually made her home in Worcester, never moving outside of her home state.  She graduated from Stonehill College in 1974 and received her Master’s Degree in Psychology and Guidance at Assumption College in 1976.  She began work as a clinician at Westborough State Hospital right out of school. Her mother had also worked at Westborough State Hospital.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/09/2019
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Elena Viapiano

Owner, Baked bakery

I was a part of the baking and cooking program.  You do have a few select men who like doing that type of stuff and the restaurant industry, it is definitely completely divided.  I mean we do have a few women that work in the kitchen. The thing is it is now changing, which I think should be fine, but I am very headstrong, and you are not going to mess with me. I’ve always been that way.  My father raised me that way.  He’s like, “Have a tough skin, you’ll be fine, and fight for what you believe in.” So, I was never really bothered by anything so I can definitely tell you from what I’ve seen that it’s definitely not great, and it’s now changing because women are showing what they can do, and some of the time they can do really good stuff. Especially in the restaurant industry, it’s got more and more women business owners and restaurants and awesome bakeries coming up so props to them.

Elena Viapiano was born and raised in Holden, Massachusetts where she has lived all of her life until recently. After attending high school at Wachusett Regional High School, she graduated in 2013 and went on to pursue a college degree in Culinary Arts at New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. Inspired by her father’s restaurant, Elena wanted to join the restaurant industry with a business of her own, thus opening her bakery called “Baked Holden.” In this interview, Elena discusses her inspirations, her hardships and her future goals as a businesswoman in the restaurant industry.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/01/2018
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Ellen More

Professor Emeritus and Founder and Head of the Office of Medical History and Archives of the University of Massachusetts Medical School

And in 2004 I became a visiting professor at UMass Medical School in the psychiatry department. And that was because they had at the time, I’m not sure if they still do, a division which was extremely interested in medical ethics and one of the things I had done at the Institute for Medical Humanities was to teach medical humanities and medical ethics as well as history of medicine so it was a very good fit. And I was there as a visiting professor for a year and a half. I learned that although they didn’t have the medical history or medical humanities department, they had an expressed need to do two things. To create an archives; they didn’t have one. And this medical school started, well they opened in 1970. This was 2006, and they did not have an archive. And one reason they became aware of the need for an archives was that the first generation of founders were all retired, some had died. People were leaving, taking their papers with them, and the chancellor at that time, Aaron Lazar, he wanted a history of the school. So, they wanted someone to start to build an archives. They also wanted someone to write a history of the school. You can’t really do that without having an archives because what records will you use?  I negotiated with the head of the library and of the school and they created a position as head of the office of medical history and archives and in 2006 I started officially, and my faculty appointment simultaneously was professor in the department of psychiatry and I spent the next ten years launching an archives and writing a history of the medical school.

Dr. Ellen Singer More was born in Manhattan, New York, in 1946 and earned her advanced and medical degrees from University of Rochester, NY. She is Professor Emeritus and Founder and Head of the Office of Medical History and Archives of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  In 2003 she received the Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize from the History of Science Society for Restoring the Balance: Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850-1995.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/19/2018
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Caitlin Lubelczyk

Director of Communications and Alumnae Relations, Notre Dame Academy; 40 Under 40 Award from the Worcester Business Journal.

I leave work and I feel good and I can’t wait to go into work the next day. And I love being able to be a part of growing the school, and telling other people about the school, and telling people that they should send their daughters to this school because they’ll get a phenomenal education and they’re going to become strong, independent women. And really it’s a phenomenal place and I’m really happy to be back.

Caitlin Sargent Lubelczyk was born in Worcester in 1982, grew up on Chester Street in 1988, and attended Notre Dame Academy in 2000. Caitlin met her husband in 2008 and she has a daughter named Olivia who is almost eight. She and her husband moved to the Burncoat area and just recently she began working at Notre Dame Academy in 2016 as Director of Communications and Alumnae Relations. In 2016 she was awarded the 40 Under 40 Award from the Worcester Business Journal. Caitlin has made changes in her career that she is grateful for.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/03/2018
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Josephine Bylinski

Spacesuit Production Worker, David Clark; Clock Maker, General Electric

First, I worked—I used to make clocks for General Electric [when they acquired] Telechron.  And then after that, the company moved out, so then I collected [unemployment] for three months, and then I got a job at David Clark and I worked on spacesuits. I worked there 32 years. I made more money at Telechron than I did at David Clark ... because I was on piece work at Telechron, so I made good money, that was good money years ago.

Josephine Bylinski was born in Worcester, MA on January 10, 1930 and attended Saint Mary’s School and Commerce High School. Upon graduation, she worked for General Electric Company making clocks for 15 years, and then for David Clark making spacesuits for 32 years. She was always and still remains a very active member of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church.

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Thu, 09/08/2016
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Regina Wolanin

Teacher, Dental Assistant, Secretary

So, I saw in the newspaper, used to be the Girls Club--where it’s Girls, Inc. now, it was the Girls Club--they’re looking for a sewing teacher and a cooking teacher. I can do it! So, I applied for the job! I said, “I do sewing, I do cooking, and everything else.” So, they hired me. So, I was a sewing and cooking teacher. And, just looking through my papers, I’ll have to let you read it because I can’t say the whole thing. When looking through all my junk stuff and everything, I came across this little thing that I saved and in it, one of my former students, when she wrote this she was 17, and I almost cried reading what she had written about me.  But anyhow, so I worked there for, oh, 24 years.

Regina H. Wolanin was born on October 29, 1926 in Webster, MA. Her parents immigrated from Poland.  She grew up in the Vernon Hill section of Worcester, which was the “Polish” section and went to school at Saint Mary’s and then Commerce High. Regina started working upon her graduation from high school and never attended college. Her family was rather poor, but they had a rich family life.

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Fri, 09/09/2016
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Marie Felice

Registered Nurse; Member of Worcester Institute for Senior Education

I feel successful that I did something important with my life, that I've helped people.  Through the years I’ve saved cards that people have sent—from patients—and I thought, “Wow, this made an impact on other people.” I feel successful that I was a good nurse, not perfect, but I do feel that God gave me the strength to do it and the motivation and even coming to the [WISE] classes now. People say, “What are you going there for?” I said, “Just to get smart.” 

Born in 1948 in Clinton, Massachusetts, Marie Felice was the first born of a growing Italian family. She remained in Clinton until she went on to get her Licensed Practical Nurse certification from Quinsigamond Community College and her Registered Nurse degree from Anna Maria College and Worcester State University. Since then, Marie has worked as a nurse and case manager at local Catholic Worcester hospitals. In her interview, she details her life as a single mother focused on raising her son, helping patients, and always learning.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2019
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Roberta Corn

Special Education Teacher; Counselor for Survivors of Domestic Abuse; WISE Member

I've always liked knowing people of different backgrounds and different cultures. I think that's a really important part of who we are as people, that we are much more connected and much more similar than we are different.

Roberta “Bobbi” Corn was born in 1945, in Belfast, Northern Ireland immigrating to the United States as an infant. Bobbi moved from state to state, she eventually settled in the Greater Worcester area over 20 years ago. Being of Jewish descent, she attended Hebrew school on Saturdays, while also attending Springfield High School during the week. After high school, she attended Penn State where she received a bachelor’s degree in English, and also met her husband.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/07/2019
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