Newsletter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Illinois - January 2014

Letter from the Director


Dear OLLI Friends,

Happy New Year, and welcome back to the new spring semester at OLLI. It has been a cold and snowy winter, but fresh ideas are always in bloom at OLLI! And with more than 1,100 members, we anticipate a robust and exciting semester.


There are many plans in the making - study groups, lectures, travel opportunities, and so much more! Read on for more information about some of those plans that are being made by our member-led committees. And watch your inboxes for updates about new activities as they are finalized.

This photo represents my shining moment of (borrowed) glory! This is actually the Oscar that set designer and art director Harry Horner won in 1949 for The Heiress, on loan for an exhibit that I curated at the Krannert Art Museum in 2004.

In the spirit of the awards season in which we find ourselves, I would like to recognize the Best Performance by a Newsletter Staff, which creates the informative, attractive, thought-provoking newsletter that you are currently reading (and the excellent Bookshelf publication, as well). Many thanks to committee members Cheri, Barbara, Frank, Bonnie, and Connie for giving our members and friends a document that is always a true pleasure to read!


Last week marked the two-year anniversary of my first day on the job at OLLI. My first day in the office was also the start of the spring courses, and the excitement of the new semester was infectious. What a joy it was to see so many people renewing old friendships and charging headlong into new adventures! Since then, the energy of the first day of a new session has lost none of its power to amaze me - or to sweep me up in the excitement.


Here's to a wonderful semester!

Best wishes,



How Are OLLI Courses Selected?

Virtually all of our members have taken an OLLI course (or two, or three!) since joining us - but not everyone is aware of how those courses and instructors are selected. Did you know that our Curriculum Committee is made up of OLLI members who dedicate their considerable time and skill to reviewing and refining proposals to create the course lineups that we offer?

Proposals are reviewed twice during the year: in the late winter for the coming fall semester, and in the fall for the spring semester. Even though our spring courses are just getting underway, the committee is just about to undertake the review of proposals for the courses that you will take in the fall!
Some of our proposals come to us from instructors who have taught at OLLI in the past and have been greatly impressed by the challenging, interactive experiences they have found in the classroom. Other proposals are submitted by current and retired U of I instructors (as well as those from Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, and other universities in central Illinois) who have heard great things about OLLI from their colleagues. And, in still other cases, we learn about instructors with strengths in exciting new areas and we invite them to propose a course for consideration.
The Curriculum Committee also considers the feedback that you, as members, provide. The course evaluations that you fill out at the end of each semester are reviewed and often lead us to ask an instructor to repeat an especially well-received course - or to teach a new subject in their area of expertise. We also look at the interest you express in courses, by informal feedback and by signing up for waitlists. That's right, waitlists are valuable to us in gauging interest; so please add your name to the list even if you don't end up getting into a course, because we might offer the course again in a future semester if there is sufficient interest.
As the spring courses commence, we would like to remind you that you may register for courses at any time up to (and after) the start of the semester. After the semester has begun, if you should decide that a course doesn't meet your needs, we would be happy to register you for a different course in its place, or offer you a refund of your course fee; please note that refunds will be available only through the first two weeks of the semester, with the refund period ending on February 7.

We are grateful to the Curriculum Committee for crafting a lineup of courses that represents a diverse mix of subject areas, new and returning instructors, and enriching experiences for our members! More information about the committee and the proposal process can be found on the OLLI website.

Movie and Pizza Party - Thursday, February 13


The Membership Committee invites you to chase away the winter doldrums with a night of pizza, friends, and a great movie featuring one of the most amazing comedic performances in film history! Join us for director Carl Reiner's 1984 film All of Me, starring the remarkable comedy team of Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin.


Click to view the All of Me trailer on YouTube

About the movie: Steve Martin plays Roger Cobb, a halfhearted lawyer who dreams of being a musician. He is assigned to the case of frail, eccentric millionaire Edwina Cutwater (Tomlin) who plans to be "transported" to the body of a younger, healthier woman - a plan that Roger is certain will end in dismal failure. Things don't go as planned: through a series of mishaps, Roger ends up with Edwina's spirit occupying his own body, where they wrestle for control of his limbs, his career, and his sanity. The plot and performances are all top-notch - especially Martin's much-heralded comic gem of a performance, which features some of the best physical comedy since the days of Charlie Chaplin.


When: Thursday, February 13 - pizza at 5:30, movie at 6:00

Where: OLLI

Cost: $5 (pay in advance or at the door) - dinner includes pizza, salad, soft drinks, and cookies

How to register:  

  • From the OLLI home page, sign in to your member account, then use the pull down menu to go to Events, then register. 
  • By email - 
  • By phone - 244-9141
  • Or in person   

We hope to see you at the movie!



Hello, OLLI Members!


It is with great pleasure that I announce OLLI's Third Annual Oscar Contest - and, once the ceremonies are over, prizes will be awarded at a lunchtime lecture and award ceremony. (Details on the latter can be found below.)


Here is how the contest works:


* Stop by the OLLI office to pick up your ballot. One entry per person!


* Fill in your ballot to indicate the one person/film you think will win in each category. (Only one vote per category, and you must vote in all categories for your entry to be eligible.)


* Put your name at the top of your ballot, and return the completed sheet to the office by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 27.

To view the 2014 nominees and  learn about Oscar history and trivia, visit the at the official web site.



The Oscars will be awarded live on Sunday, March 2. After the awards have been announced, I will count up the number of correct guesses on all of the entries, and prizes will be awarded to those with the highest scores. (Disclaimer: The prizes themselves are not especially grand, but it is always more fun to follow the Oscars if you have a rooting interest in the competition!)


We will announce the winners and award the prizes on Friday, March 14 as part of a Lunchtime Lecture on the 75th anniversary of 1939, which is considered the greatest year in film history. The lecture will take place at OLLI from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. - it is free and open to all members, but advance registration is required.


To read more about this event and register, go to the OLLI home page, sign in to your member account, then use the pull down menu to go to Events. You may also sign up by phone (244-9141), in the office, or  send us an email.  


If you win a prize and are not present at the Lunchtime Lecture, you will be contacted by email to make arrangements to collect your winnings.


I hope that you will be interested in playing along, and joining us for the festivities after the awards. It doesn't matter if you have seen the films; everyone is welcome to throw their best guesses into the contest! Ballots are available now, so let the games begin.


Here's looking at you!



In This Issue

Inclement Weather   Procedures


In the event of inclement conditions, we will make announcements through the following outlets:  

  • The OLLI Facebook page -- if you don't already "like" us on Facebook, you can find us here (and you don't have to "like" us to see our posts)
  • WILL TV and radio

We will make every effort to contact our members via email, but that is not always possible. So we encourage you to check Facebook and the local media listed above for the most reliable and up-to-date information. In all situations, we urge you to consider your safety first when conditions are bad - after all, we do not take attendance at OLLI!


Using Your OLLI Member Account



Look for the login links on the right of your screen on the registration page.

As an OLLI member, you may sign on to your member account at any time by clicking on the blue "sign in to your account" button on the OLLI home page, then look for the log in box on the upper right of your screen.


If you have forgotten your login or password information, click the "Forgot your password?" link and it will be sent to you!


Your member account is your portal to your OLLI membership. It will be used for registering for courses, study groups, lectures, and other events as they are announced.


For those activities that have a registration fee, you may pay online or check the box marked "pay later" to pay in the office at your convenience.


If you need to change your contact information or review the list of activities for which you are registered, you can do that, too!


If you have a question about your balance, please contact the office before you make any payments.  


And, if you have any other questions about your account, please allow us to resolve the matter for you - and do not create a second account for yourself (a situation that can be almost impossible to resolve!).  


We are here to help you make the best possible use of your OLLI account, so please let us know if we can be of assistance.

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In 1939,  the greatest year in film history, ten films were nominated for Best Picture:



The Oscar statue is 13 inches high and weighs 8 pounds. It features a naked man plunging a sword into a film reel, and the five spokes on the reel represent the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers).

The statues are manufactured by R.S. Owens & Company in Chicago.

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony took place in 1929. Douglas Fairbanks hosted the show. Tickets cost five dollars, 270 people attended and the ceremony lasted fifteen minutes.

Best Picture went to Wings, a silent film about two World War I fighter pilots who loved the same woman, played by Clara Bow.

The Buzz
News from the classroom


The Beatles 

Tom Galer-Unti reports that he's had a blast facilitating this study group, which had a sing-along at the end of each session. Tom provided some background for every album and song the group discussed, and he said the group was very tolerant when he also shared some personal "Beatles Connections," like the fact that he has brothers named Paul and George. What, no Ringo in the



Cash in the Abbey video


Wolf Hall 

Participants in Sharon Michalove's Wolf Hall study group enjoyed nuggets of primary source material strewn throughout their discussions of the book, and they also watched videos about the court and daily life at the time. But by far the most amusing video was Cash in the Abbey, one of the BBC Horrible Histories series. 'A hit, a palpable hit,' as Hamlet said.


Food, Glorious Food!

All sorts of food related topics led to some delicious discussions in this study group facilitated by Jean Paley and Sharon Michalove. And there was true deliciousness on the table at their end-of-session potluck of childhood favorites - soup to nuts, literally, with heavenly desserts.


Hollywood Encounters the Holocaust

Don and Joyce Francisco showed award-winning films on the Holocaust and the group discussed them. Bonus features on the DVDs offered new insights from the directors and actors of some of the films, and OLLI members shared their own thoughts.


Film Noir & Neo-Noir

In the Film Noir study group, facilitated by Dick Helfrich, class members saw examples of modern noir films dating from Chinatown (the film that probably made Jack Nicholson's career) through the more recent Coen brothers' classics Blood Simple and No Country for Old Men. It's good to be reminded how great these "dark" films are, and how they've changed the way films are made.



Modern American Short Story

Wide-ranging discussions facilitated by Paula Watson's insightful questions were the main features of this study group, along with a good group "chemistry." Class members wrapped up the eight weeks with an after-hours potluck dinner hosted by group member Barbara Orden. Good food and more good conversation - hard to beat that.


Best American Mystery Stories of 2007

Mysteries are literature, too! This session's anthology included stories by John Sandford, Joyce Carol Oates, and James Lee Burke, as well as a gaggle of rising authors. Bev Herzog and Tim Smith spread the fun of facilitating by having each participant research one or two of the authors and lead the discussion on that story, which is a good way of making everyone feel an equal part of the process by the end of the eight weeks.


Websites for OLLI-ites
Local websites to keep you in the loop

If you want to know what's happening in Champaign-Urbana, check out these websites. You may find a favorite new website - enjoy!


Smile Politely This site bills itself as "Champaign-Urbana's independent, online, culture magazine," providing "the community with a passionate, trustworthy, informed point of view on local music, art, culture, sports, and food & drink." Area residents contribute articles and leave comments about everything from current movies, local restaurants, special events, and more.


CU Jazz. Jazz enthusiasts will appreciate the great calendar of upcoming C-U jazz events.


40 North. Sponsored by the Champaign Arts Council, their stated mission is "Cultivating Creativity in Champaign County!" A great resource for local artists, the site also keeps the whole community informed about cultural events throughout the county.


Visit Champaign County.  While this website sounds like it is for visitors to the community, it can offer a new perspective for locals. Categories on the site include arts,entertainment, attractions, dining, Lincoln's Champaign County, nightlife, seasonal events, Parkland, University of Illinois, parks, recreation, and shopping.


Wiki Do.  This is a national website, but put 'Champaign' or 'Urbana' into the search tab and Wiki Do will tell you what's going on today - or another date you enter. Events are listed in several categories, including nightlife, food and drink, arts and museums, social events and more. Wiki Do will even find events that other search engines might miss, such as religious events. In the spirit of all Wikis, users can leave a review or share information about an event. You can even add your own new things to do into Wiki Do's database.


Wise Bread.  Wise Bread is a community of bloggers whose goal is to "help you live large on a small budget." This link is to info on free or inexpensive things to do in Champaign-Urbana.


CU-Citizen Access. Overseen by Brant Houston (Knight Foundation Chair in Investigative and Enterprise Reporting, UI Professor of Journalism and OLLI instructor), this site will inform you about items of interest to local citizens - restaurant inspection results, housing conditions, education issues, and much more.


Chambana Moms.  Despite its name, Chambana Moms has a lot of information that is useful to everyone, not just young parents. There is some focus on family-friendly activities, but it has more general stuff as well. It includes event calendars, useful local information (such as a listing of all local businesses/services that will be closed on an upcoming holiday, for instance), readers' recommendations for various local services, and other info.


Spurlock Museum Tour

For OLLI members who had never made it to the Spurlock Museum, and for those who were familiar with it but wanted to see the new exhibit, the recent OLLI tour of the Champaign-Urbana Spinners and Weavers Guild show at the museum was a big hit.  


The exhibit centers around roughly thirty artifacts from the museum's collections and the fiber art creations those items inspired local artists to create. Although the Spinners and Weavers Guild's name suggests simply spinning and weaving, in fact the members engage in a wide range of fiber art creations, and the variety and beauty of the pieces on display. Each creation shown alongside the museum artifact that inspired it makes a powerful impression. Guild members put in approximately three thousand hours of work crafting the final display items, and it shows in the extraordinary detail and complexity of the creations.


The items on exhibit include documentation as to how they were made. A member of the Spinners and Weavers Guild accompanied a museum curator on the tour, and both of the guides shared the stories behind the creation of each piece. But even if you missed the tour, you can enrich your visit there with the interactive stations set up in the gallery. One station lets you touch samples of materials and fibers used in the exhibits (of course you cannot touch the actual display items), and another station has a computer playing a video of interviews with the local artists. This exhibit will be at the Spurlock through March 9, so you still have an opportunity to see it. The Spurlock is a wonderful resource and if you have not yet visited it, let this exhibit be the prod you need to strike up an acquaintance.



Getting to Know You
OLLI members respond to the question: When you were a child, what did you want to be as a grown-up? What did you actually do as a grown-up? "

Ten OLLI members wanted to be a performer (actress, movie star, rock star, ballerina, musician, or dance)

And an equal number of members wanted to become teachers.


Gene Amberg

As a youngster, I thought I had a vocation to be a Roman Catholic priest. Growing up in a large Catholic family, we had lots of close priest friends; and I admired their stellar educational backgrounds, their undying dedication and their overall zest for life. From age 14-19, I went off to the seminary for my studies - but never completed the journey to ordination. Semi-retired now, I spent 35 years in public K-12 schools, mostly (25 years) as a Superintendent of Schools in three different states.


Elizabeth Abraham

I decided in third grade that I wanted to be a teacher and indeed I did.


Carol Belber

I honestly don't remember exactly what I wanted to be when I "grew up." I probably changed my mind every week but settled on teaching. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I taught second grade for one year, moved to Germany (courtesy of the US Army) with my new husband, and taught kindergarten and did some subbing. It wasn't until we moved to CU and my children were in junior high and high school that I began my new career, the best job anyone could ever have! I taught Adult Basic Education at the Urbana Adult Education Center. My students were there because they wanted to be. I taught students from ages 16 to 94 how to read, how to improve reading and the importance of life skills. The staff was wonderful and I had amazing dedicated co-teachers. Nina Heckman (another OLLI member) and I taught together for many years.


Cheryl Binch

I wanted to be something (anything) on stage...Rockette, lounge singer, June Taylor dancer, beat poet. I did get to act/direct/etc. in college, and later coached high school speech teams. That was a great joy. However, I ended up earning a living as a sales rep for IBM and as a travel agent. And then, of course, the best job, mom.


Ivana Bodulic

When I was a child I wanted to be an archaeologist. I got a degree in archaeology and worked as an archaeologist for ten years. Then I came to the United States and worked as a travel agent for ten years.


Judy Braunfeld

When I was a teenager I wanted to make use of my musical education by teaching blind children about music. I ended up being a social worker with a degree in gerontology. I, therefore, have worked with people at the other end of the life journey -- the aged. I have never regretted my choice.


Morton Brussel

I wanted to be a Louis Pasteur. I started out studying biology, but switched to physics in college, which led me to be a physics professor/researcher.


Rabel Burdge

Growing up, I wanted to get out of poverty. Finally, I am an old college professor.


Chris Catanzarite

When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up to be a movie star. Alas, no red carpets for me, but I have been lucky enough to spend much of my professional life teaching and writing about stars and their movies.


Pat. Chapel

My first desired occupation at 6 or 7 years old was to be a movie star. This was likely inspired by going to the movies every week so Aunt Matilda could build her plate collection (attendees got a free dinner plate at Tuesday night movies). My entire working life was dedicated to being a resource and advocate for volunteers and volunteerism at United Way.


Beth Chato

I remember being asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" by a reporter in the train station as my family moved from Toronto to Cincinnati. I was 13 at the time, and my reply was that I hoped to be an ornithologist. That never quite happened. I did major in zoology at the University of Cincinnati. On graduation I married and then worked as a lab technician at the U of I  and then at Harvard Medical School to help my husband through graduate school. I then retired and raised three children. However I have pursued my birding interests throughout my life, as a citizen scientist, collecting bird data for the Urbana Park District and the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, among many other related tasks. I also was for many years a volunteer nature guide for the Urbana Park District. It has been a good life choice for me.


Willis Colburn

When I was young, I wanted to be an engineer or scientist. At age 7, I had an opportunity to peer through a large telescope at a university observatory and developed a love for optical instruments and astronomy. I loved it when my father would order a few lenses to play with. I earned BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and worked for 35 years as on optical engineer, mostly for small high-tech companies.


Betty Davis

I always knew that I wanted to do something in a

"What children want to be when they grow up"

Twenty seven per cent of boys surveyed in 1950 wanted to be a cowboy film star like Roy Rogers.
(The London Guardian archive, November 1950)

scientific field, preferably biology.I graduated from the U of I with a double major in chemistry and biology, and my first position was Bacteriologist at the Michigan Department of Health in East Lansing, MI.  After three years at the lab, I changed my career to mother to be with our three children. When we moved to Champaign after ten years, I looked for something a bit different and was fortunate to receive a stipend from the National Science Foundation, which was funding women with a scientific background for librarian positions at universities. For the next 30 years, I held the position of Biology Librarian at the University of Illinois, so I guess one could say that my childhood ideas very happily tuned into my adult pursuits.


Paul Davis

I recall wanting to be a fireman, coast to coast truck driver, and radio announcer. I became a radio announcer at age 15. In my adult life I was anchor/news director in television.


Claire Douglas

When I was a child, I wanted to be Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I learned to dance, including tap, and grew up to be a journalist and artist.


John Elder

As a child I wanted to be a deep sea diver. I became a professor of comparative literature and a lawyer.


Sharon Neufer Emswiler

As a youth I wanted to be a missionary, then an elementary school teacher, and finally a director of Christian education in a local church. What I actually became was an ordained United Methodist minister, serving as pastor of several local churches, a district superintendent with responsibility for 75 churches in the Springfield District and a campus minister at the Wesley Foundations of two universities -- 14 years at Illinois State and 5 years at the University of Illinois. Most of my 35 years in ministry were spent serving with my husband, Tom, who also is a United Methodist minister and OLLI member/instructor.


Beth Felts

When I was 10 years old I wanted to be an advertising artist. I grew up and did that all through college and for several years afterwards. Then I switched to advertising sales (at the News-Gazette) because I wanted to be out of the office more. I was in advertising for 15 years, then went into college fundraising when I had an epiphany that I wanted to do something more meaningful for my fellow man.


Susan Feuille

Early on, I wanted to save the world as the future Princess of Wales until Prince Charles grew those ears! By the time I was 12, I wanted to be a nurse. I actually became an R.N. At age 40 I went back to school at the U of I, got two degrees, taught history and then worked in Alumni Relations on campus for 7 years. In my retirement, I have continued teaching etiquette classes. So I am not fully retired yet!


Joyce Francisco

I wanted to be a secretary because my mother was, and it seemed the only other option was to be a teacher, like my aunt, which I definitely didn't want to do. I eventually did become a secretary when I graduated from college, but it was in a publishing house where I learned copyediting and proofreading. These two jobs became my career. I stayed a secretary for only about a year.


Tom Galer-Unti

When I was little, I toyed with the idea of growing up to be a Marvel superhero. When I realized that was not possible, I thought I might do something with music. I noted that I wasn't the greatest at that, so I majored in accountancy at the U of I. For the last 31 of my 35 years working for the University of Illinois, I was the business manager for WILL-AM-FM-TV and the College of Communications/Media.


Marsha Gepner

When I was a child I wanted to be an archaeologist (or at least my idea of what an

archaeologist was). My grown-up occupation was about as far removed from my childhood dream as one could imagine. I became PR director for the Country Music Association in Nashville and later a TV writer/producer (e.g. TNN remote location producer for the original FarmAid telecast that took place right here in Champaign in 1985).


"When I Grow Up:
Kids' Dream Jobs",

 Kids usually have a pretty good idea of what they want to be when they grow up and no idea at all how much those jobs are paid.

Sandy Hall

I wanted to be an

elementary school teacher. I was president of Future Teachers of America and was set to go to Kent State for that degree. Then as president of FTA, I got to monitor a class when the teacher had a medical appointment. That experience in my senior year made me understand that teaching was definitely not what I wanted to do. So, much to the dismay of many people, I went to business college to get a certificate in business as a secretary. I never regretted that decision and have met and worked for many interesting people in that career. In later years I went back to college and got an AA degree in Business Application (secretarial).


Kathy Hansen
I always wanted to be an elementary teacher. I have taught in many areas of education but finally taught my "dream" grade about 10 years ago. Second grade was everything I dreamed it would be. Loved it!!!! Now I teach reading and I love it as well.  


Barbara Hartman

At one point during my teens, I thought being an architect would be cool. However as a "grown up," I became a business manager; and after obtaining a master's degree in labor and industrial relations, I worked in the human resources field.  


Terry Haru

As a kid, I sometimes laid on the sidewalk at night, gazing upon the amazing number of twinkling pin dots of light scattered against the backdrop of a vast darkness. I imagined what it might be like to travel through this darkness and visit all the wonders within it. I envisioned myself an astronaut, or at least an astronomer. Unfortunately, school taught me that I wasn't

very good at math, physics, and the like. I ended up being a college professor (in the social sciences), a psychotherapist, and lastly, a senior executive for a behavioral health care center. So, instead of exploring the external universe of planets, stars, nebulae, and the like, I wound up exploring the inner universe of the mind.


Anne Heiles

I went through a series of aspirations, but for our eighth-grade assignment, I wrote that I wanted to do the cartoon artwork for the Yellow Pages! And indeed I was the editorial cartoonist for our college newspaper as well as its music critic. But my professional life was as a violist in the Detroit Symphony and then as a viola and music history professor at a few universities. My later life career was as a book editor and writer.


Bruce Hemminger

I have not a clue what I wanted to be as a grown up. As an adult, I spent 40+ years in computing: 15 years in university research computing and 25 with HP.


Kathleen Holden

I wanted to be a nurse. After a stint as a social worker, I had a long career as an administrator at the U of I.


Connie Hosier
I wanted to be a concert pianist and play in Carnegie Hall. Instead I taught kids kicked out of Manhattan high schools for truancy and bad behavior in a special school designated for naughty new yorkers. The only time I was in Carnegie Hall was as an audience member. Big dreams, bigger reality.


Barbara Hudgings

I wanted to be a doctor. I became a teacher.


Debra Karplus

I wanted to be a wife and mother but maybe also a teacher. Instead I became an occupational therapist, accountant, entrepreneur and freelance writer, basically all at the same time. And, yes, I also became a wife and mother.


Celia Kraatx

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress or an anthropologist, and I wanted to go to France. As it turned out, I was a French teacher and a computer-based education specialist.


Carol Kubitz

When I was growing up I thought I would be a teacher or a nurse and didn't decide until well into college, when I had to choose an education curriculum. I taught for 14 years and then worked as a graphic artist, finally doing all my work on a computer -- which I loved and still do!


Emily Lewis

I wanted to be a teacher. I was a middle school teacher for many years in Champaign.


Judith Liebman

As a child I wanted to be reporter or a scientist. I became a professor of operations research.


Several of our members noted that their childhood career dreams were affected by social and gender norms at the time, as some jobs were considered primarily "male" or "female."

In the past decade, we have seen greater awareness of the need to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) - and these are some of the leading websites that feature more information about current trends in career preparation and educational policy:

Germaine Light

I wanted to be an astronaut in 7th grade. I also considered careers as a concert pianist, a doctor, and an attorney. In these endeavors I was not encouraged by any adults in my life, in fact discouraged on account of my gender, with the exception of concert pianist, where I decided that music was better as a hobby for me. In 1965, my 7th grade teacher discouraged me from trying to be an astronaut, saying that women were too "moody." In 1969 my high school counselor discouraged me from studying to be a doctor, saying that nurse or teacher careers were more appropriate for girls, despite the fact that I had excellent grades and loved science and math. My own father, an attorney himself, discouraged me from pursuing a law degree and tried to get me to go to business school. He was very old fashioned, born in 1906. I wish I had not listened to any of them and just worked toward whatever career I wanted. But I had some maturing to do. I worked a series of clerical jobs and then was hired as an animal groomer for a veterinarian in Normal. Then Bloomington-Normal Public Transit expanded their bus routes and hired me as a city bus driver, which I did for two years. During this time I vowed to return to Illinois State University and finish my biological sciences education degree, which I did. I became a high school biology teacher and taught in public schools for 28 years. I was careful to encourage girl students in careers not traditional for women! During this time I was also a union activist in the Illinois Education Association/NEA, and I continue as a union activist even after retirement. 


Carlton Mills

I wanted to be an Electronic Counter-Measures (ECM) man on a B-52. When the B-52 was 'seen' by the bad guy's radar, the ECM person had to figure out how to jam the radar.  Instead I came to the U of I in 1960, took Air Force ROTC, and became a computer bum. I actually touched Illiac I.


Robert Morris

Childhood interest: geologist. Adult career: urban planner.


Mary Mortland

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a nun. (I went to a Catholic grade school and was one of several girls named Mary in my class.) As a grown-up I worked in clinical microbiology labs and taught microbiology.


Traci Nally

I wanted to be a doctor and then became a lawyer. I was very good in math and science in K-12. Then my first freshman semester at the U of I caused me to run screaming from a science and math academic focus, due to two courses with horrible instruction: chemistry taught by blurry video and a non-English speaking T.A., and trigonometry with an actual, for real, live, but poorly skilled teacher. I am living proof that the quality of the educator does make a difference. My legal career has been good to me, though, so everything turned out just grand.


Katie Newman

I can hardly believe it now, but I expressed an interest in being my mother's maid!  Presumably it was because I wanted to be helpful, a trait that eventually led me to become a librarian. I ended my career as the Biotechnology Librarian at the University, where I had the pleasure of helping scientists find the literature they needed for their biological research. I was well-suited to this role as I have a Ph.D. in Biology, myself, and thus could "speak their language." I retired from the University mid-2012.


Pam Olson

I wanted to get married, have 6 children, be a stay-at-home mom, and work with kids. I got married, had 2 kids, stayed at home with them (did without to do so and never regretted anything), have grandchildren I adore, and own a daycare. Life is great!

"What today's kids
REALLY want to be when they grow up

More boys than girls dream of becoming dancers - and girls put footballer ahead of dancer in their list of top five jobs.
(London Daily Mail)


Diane Ore

Growing up, I wanted to become an actress. I became a speech-language pathologist. Not even close.


Larry Pater

I wanted to be either an engineer or a rock star. I became an engineer. I still think about the other...


Patricia Porter

I wanted to be a school teacher. My parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and several cousins were teachers. I married a teacher! I enjoyed many years in this profession as a fifth grade teacher, and am proud to say both my sons and their wives are teachers.


Marilyn Resch

When I was a child, I wanted to be a secretary in New York City. It sounded so glamorous and exciting. I became a lawyer in Central Illinois. By the time I reached high school I realized that doors were beginning to open for women. I started law school at the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington in 1970, one of the first years when women in "large" numbers (roughly 23 in a class of 220) were being admitted. I was the second female to practice law in Effingham County, Illinois. The first was Ada Kepley in 1881! My legal life has not necessarily been glamorous, but it has been interesting and fulfilling. I have never regretted changing my mind.   


Anne Robin
I wanted to be a ballerina. I became a Family Physician. But I still like to dance!


Barak Rosenshine

I never, ever thought about what I wanted to do as a grown-up. At 19, I decided to become a teacher. I became a high school teacher, and then did research on teaching at the U of I.


Joe Rotman

When I was a kid in Chicago, I wanted to be an Antarctic explorer. While in my warm bed, I read all about Scott and Byrd. The closest I came to the South Pole was when I was flying overseas and the fellow next to me had just finished the second of three tours there. And yes, it was bitter cold with terrible winds. As I was growing up, I was pretty good at math. All my family were immigrants, and the only one who had been to college was an engineer then working for GE. So, I was fated to be an engineer, whatever that was. But I won a scholarship to the university of my choice, and I chose the University of Chicago because my sister had gone there. There was no engineering there, but one could get a degree in liberal arts without declaring a major. I then discovered that one could get degrees in math, and so I did. I was very lucky, for I now know that their math department then was the best in the world. I joined the math department here, but I never did go to the South Pole. The kid's dream was not the adult's.


Ann Russell

When I was a child, I wanted to be an archeologist, but then I found out that you had to camp out. As an adult I have had two careers. First I worked as a programmer for the U of I administrative computer system, and then I became a social worker. 


Bill Salzman

I wanted to be a sailor, ended up a preacher.


Pat Schutt

When I was 6 years old I began piano lessons in Cleveland, Ohio with Anne Taborsky Molnar, who had studied with Artur Rubenstein's brother. (She came to my house once a week and it cost $2.00 per lesson.) But, by the time I was 11 years old, while practicing 2+ hours a day and playing concertos, my fingers would lock and became painful. Before I was to give a public recital which was to be a surprise for my mother, the best orthopedic specialist in Cleveland told us that I should never touch the piano again - "...don't even dust it!" What he thought I had was "worse than arthritis." Well, plans for Juilliard and a concert career were dashed and it took me years to get over the fact. At Miami University I was not allowed to major in music because I couldn't give a recital, so I became an elementary school teacher and realized later that it would have been very difficult to combine a concert career with having a family. I have not played my beautiful antique baby grand piano at all in 20 some years.


Veronica Shavitt

At the age of 8-10 I was fascinated with mixing my mother's eau de cologne with her face powder and so I wanted to be a chemist when grown up. I soon gave up the idea. But I married a chemist. Later I became more interested in art history, so I got a degree in that and in interior design and worked as an interior designer until I retired.


Cliff Schwartz

There was a time when I was pretty young that I wanted to be a sheep herder when I grew up. I had probably seen a movie and it looked like a nice life. I grew up to be a chemical engineer, for better or worse.


Mary Severinghaus

I wanted to be a circus or zoo veterinarian. While I did get into the pre-vet program at Illinois, chemistry was an insurmountable obstacle to me. So I majored in zoology, acquired a Masters in biology, and wound up teaching biology at Parkland College. The one thing I swore I'd never do: teach. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and like to think I was quite good at it.


Delora Siebrecht

I wanted to be an airline stewardess. Instead, I started working in banking and ended up working in finance at the City of Urbana and in charge of collecting parking tickets! You just never know where life will lead you.


Cheri Sullivan

When I was a child I wanted to learn every language in the world and become a translator at the United Nations. As an adult, I first became a medievalist, which required a smattering of languages, but later became a dietitian - no foreign language required.


Susan Taylor

When I was young, I loved school (still do) and I wanted to become a teacher. Thus, I became a teacher. Over my working days, it took many forms, in many locations, with all age groups and varying information to deliver. To this day, teacher/counselor is what I do best.


Chris Todd

I always wanted to be a nurse. I read all the nursing books I could find as a child and up until high school I was determined to be a nurse. Then I took chemistry from a very talented teacher. I loved it and majored in chemistry when I got to college. I did research for a professor as an undergraduate and loved the scientific inquiry but didn't love the nasty chemicals (I worked with a chemical that was essentially essence of skunk!) or the huge amount of time working alone. After a while I realized that chemistry wasn't for me. I worked as a secretary for a number of years but finished my chemistry degree. After I had my children I started taking courses in child psychology. My love for scientific inquiry easily transferred to the social sciences. I went on to obtain my Ph.D. in child psychology, followed by a career in human development that involved teaching, research and administration at the university level. I ended up teaching nursing students!


Bob Valden

As a child, I wanted to be a scientist - an astronomer or paleontologist in particular. I spent most of my adult life as a geologist, working with stratigraphy, paleontology, and education outreach. 


"I want to be a DOG
when I grow up"

Hilarious proof that kids really do say the funniest things.
 (London Daily Mail)

Alan Walworth

When I was little, I wanted to be a garbage man. I would pile pillows and blankets on my bed, then sit on top, riding the "trash" in my truck. Sadly, that dream remains unfulfilled. 


Arcelia Watson

I wanted to be a woman journalist. I became a public school teacher. I taught for 54 years.


Diane Wardrop

As a child, I wanted to be a nurse and read every Sue Barton (flight, army, hospital, children's, etc.) nurse book in the library. (How did Sue have the time to be all those types of nurses, I wondered.)  As an adult, I became a rural letter carrier for the postal service. However, that was the middle of my working adult life, as I bookended my 15 year postal career with 20 years (split 15 and 5) as a working registered nurse! Two careers!


Al Wehrmann

As a younger person, I had the usual boyhood infatuations. My first grade teacher's son was a fireman and that seemed pretty neat. A son of my parent's friends was a mailman, and that looked like fun. But, first and foremost, like many my age, I dreamed of being an astronaut - I grew up during the "space age" and worshiped heroes like John Glenn and Chuck Yeager (X-15 pilot). During my years in high school, I had an interest in architecture. Then I found out it typically took 5 years to get a degree in architecture. My interest in math and drafting, as well as the desire to be able to work outdoors, led me to engineering and I did, in fact, complete a B.S. in Civil Engineering. I devoted 34 years in the engineering field as a hydrologist and, in particular, groundwater hydrology (wells, water supply, contamination, etc.).


Rosalind Weinberg

As a child entering my teens I had two very different ideas of being grown up. At first I wanted to be a hairdresser because they were some of the first people I met outside of my wide family circle and that seemed like a fun job. Then, as I entered my teens and my reading took me further and I started taking science classes, I wanted to be a scientist. This is an ordinary expectation now, but back in 1960 in London, in my Jewish middle class family where no girl ever went to college and few finished high school, it was as if I told my family that I was going to live on the moon. I did become a scientist, traveled, worked abroad, came to the US to get to know a brother who left home when I was a child and then, even though I did not have it in my long term plans, married and later taught science and took up fine art while raising our children.


Tony Welsh

Wanted to be: a Franciscan priest working as a clinical psychologist. What happened: married with kids working as manager of a group of computer technicians. Go figure...oh well, it is all good!


Candace Wilmot

I don't remember having any ideas of what to be when I grew up as a young child, but in 1953, when I was a sophomore in high school, I read a Reader's Digest article about this new thing called computer programming. I said, "Yup, that's what I want to do." And I spent 36 years at the University doing just that.



Study Group Facilitators, Late Fall Session

We are pleased to recognize our members who served as Study Group Facilitators for the late-fall session. Thank you for serving as our "tour guides" into so many fascinating new worlds!

About Us
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with support from the Bernard Osher Foundation, is part of a national network that recognizes learning has no age limits.
Through a rich array of learning opportunities, members are inspired to take a fresh look at themselves, their world, and the possibilities that await them.
OLLI at Illinois is a member-led community of peers. It provides its members with a number of special perks and offers them exciting courses, and educational trips, as well as small-group discussion opportunities, a meeting place and special events.
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