My Turn: A speech that led me to college and changed my life
Thank you, Kathleen Ronayne, for your interesting article, “Colleges recruit students” (Monitor front page,
In the spring of 1948, Dorothy Randall from Keene Teachers College came to Concord High School for just the same reason. An announcement that morning said that any student who wished to hear Mrs. Randall speak about Keene Teachers College could go to the auditorium third period and turn in their homework the next day. Mr. Simpson, our English teacher, did not accept homework after the beginning of class. I had attended a 4-H meeting the night before and did not have my homework completed, so I went to the auditorium to save my neck.
Meeting Mrs. Randall changed my life, for sure. She spoke about opportunities to work your way though college in many ways and that there were even tuition scholarships available. I remember going up front after she talked and asking her again, “Do you really mean you do not have to be rich to go to college?” She assured me that was true. I came home that night floating on air with an application in hand.
My parents cried, as they were sure they could not send me to college no matter how badly I wanted to go, but I assured them that I would do it myself. Finally Mom let me make an appointment with Mrs. Randall, and we went to Keene. Mrs. Randall arranged for a job for me and a $300 scholarship to help with tuition as well.
I worked in a home the first year, fixing dinner and doing laundry. Washing, starching and ironing 21 white shirts each week for the businessman of the home was the hardest job I ever did, but I did it.
The next two years I lived with a family with six children and loved the whole family while I was there.
When I graduated, I owed $600 and paid it off within two years. Our salaries were not that great in 1952, but I had met and married the love of my life in April. My husband, Bob, was deferred from the service till he graduated, but he left for Basic Training a couple of weeks after we graduated.
I taught school the first year in Walpole and then joined him for a life together after that.
I taught for 33 years in Georgia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and Texas. We had a wonderful life, and when my husband chose to leave the insurance field for the ministry, my education helped us manage in so many ways.
I gave back to the education field as a leader in our communities, adviser to youth groups and president of the Vermont Vocational Teachers Association, among other things. In 1980 I won a national fellowship and received my master’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia.
I will thank Keene State College (now) for the wonderful education I received, as it made possible so many great opportunities for me all my life.
I hope there are other students who will be able to do likewise today. I also commend the Legislature for returning some of the money cut from the higher education budget before and pray that lawmakers will see fit to increase the budget in the future. The youth of today are the future of our state and our country tomorrow. Please give them the opportunity for the chance to have an abundant life as I did.
(Winnie Langtry lives in Contoocook.)