In August 2018, during Older Student Registration, students Carol Chester and Gail Johnston, with guidance from Joanne Jaber Gauvin from the Urban Action Institute, initiated the Older Student Writing Project (OSWP). The goal of the project was to collect personal essays written by older students and to have them printed in a university publication. The purpose of the project was to highlight the work of older students, showing that they add to the diversity of the WSU community.
By Dianne Sargent
In my life, I have most enjoyed learning to read. Miss Adams, my first-grade teacher, believed reading was important and rewarded her hard-working students with a special treat of cocoa and cookies, right in the middle of class time. The day I learned to read, I came home and showed my mother by reading the newspaper to her. The article happened to be about a sensational crime, but my mom was most impressed that I could read.
In middle school, when summer vacation came around, I set out to read all the biographies of the great men and women from the past that filled a whole room of the West Boylston library. It really opened my eyes to the greater world around me. In high school, I read many great philosophers’ works. I also studied many world religions and wondered about differences in various world cultures.
As an adult, I attended the Worcester Art Museum School, which opened my eyes to art history. Previously, I mistakenly believed history was memorizing dates of wars, and I did not relate it to the actual people and events that make up human history. Reading about art history made history come alive, and I finally understood that each time period had certain types of art, certain types of music, revolutions, and times of peace, allowing for more cultural development.
As a parent, I always impressed the importance of reading to my children, and I enjoyed reading to them every night. We had many happy moments reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, which also inspired much cooking, in response to her descriptions of the good food her mother made.
I have always had at least four books beside my bed, so I could read before sleeping no matter how tired I might be. The books include a dictionary, a Bible, The Count of Monte Cristo, and a current or classic book, such as The House of Seven Gables.
In particular, The Count of Monte Cristo is very meaningful to me because it shows how an innocent young man can be convicted of a crime unjustly, and how injustice can embitter a person to the point of wreaking revenge on the perpetrators. The book details the extent to which the protagonist sought revenge and his subsequent realization that such behavior is not wise. The encouraging ending, “wait, and hope,” has inspired me to this day. I hope to continue learning throughout my life and give a positive message to all, not to seek revenge for injustice, but to work for change in our circle of influence.
Dianne Sargent is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in chemistry at Worcester State University. She is an office manager at R&D Technical Services in Spencer and also works for Harvest Home Healthcare in Worcester. Previously she attended the Worcester Art Museum School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute before marrying and raising a family.