"I think for me success is being challenged with what I’m doing … it’s more the challenge of doing something interesting and helping someone else. And I always felt that about education while working here at Assumption, that I was helping adult students get their lives back on track or retool to get a new career. And then later with the older students I really felt like I was making a big difference in the latter half of their lives. They would tell me things like, 'I don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t have WISE to come to.' So for me, it was to be able to offer something to other people and to be challenged with something new. And that is what I am finding now with my new career, as I slowly build up this business, that it’s nice to be challenged and I still like to be doing something that is helping other people hopefully."
Charlene Martin was born in 1957, graduated from Assumption College in Worcester, MA, and subsequently worked there for twenty-eight years. She spent most of her career at Assumption in the Continuing Education department working with adult learners and after a series of positions became Dean of the program. Her achievements include developing the first online courses for the College and founding the Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE), a lifelong learning institute for older adults. She earned a doctorate in higher education from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst. In this interview Charlene discusses the frequent moves made during her childhood, the importance of education in her life, her love for the Assumption College community, and her passion for adult and older adult education. This passion continued after she left the College to start her own business Pathfinders Retirement Innovations where she provides seminars and consulting on educational programming for adults seeking meaning in the second half of their lives. She reflects upon the importance of seeking new challenges and learning opportunities throughout one’s life. She is also active in various organizations and is currently co-chair of the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project.