Vassar Quarterly - Spring 2018 - 42
"I never, ever thought
I'd be arguing cases
married physician Morris H. Sherman. Her husband's death
in 1968 changed everything.
For the next 10 years, she raised her children alone, while
teaching high school chemistry in suburban Minneapolis.
But when her school district announced imminent cutbacks,
she had to act fast. "I was a widow supporting my family," she
says. "As the newest chemistry teacher, my job would most
likely be cut."
She started evening classes at William Mitchell College
of Law, teaching by day and studying law by night. "My biggest worry was how I was going to get the house cleaned,"
she jokes. Her youngest son still lived at home, and wasn't
thrilled with her long hours. But when she faltered, he said,
"You can't quit now, Mom. I've told all my friends you're going
to night school."
Sherman was in her 50s when
she graduated from law school. "I felt
like somebody's grandmother," she
says. But more changes blossomed.
She married again, this time to a fellow lawyer, and a man in her Bar review class told her the 3M Company
was seeking a chemical patent
Sherman worked at 3M for nearly
two decades, then telecommuted part
time until she retired at 78. Her new
job was "absolutely fantastic. I had a
much better salary and a lot of perks.
I had my own secretary!"
Some high-profile cases involved
multiple patents in different countries. Sherman traveled to Germany
and Japan, where she went to court
with an interpreter. "One of the
things I never, ever thought I'd be
doing is arguing cases in Japan," she
says with hard-won satisfaction.
Like Baldeck, Sherman has endowed a scholarship in her name.
"Vassar College gave me the education and confidence to embark on the
careers that have helped provide me
with a full and stimulating life," she
says. "I've enjoyed all my careers."
a patent lawyer
These are but a handful of the many Vassar graduates who have
made radical changes in their career paths. Barbara Hess
Hornbach '69 spent 32 years at AT&T Bell Laboratories (later
called Lucent Technologies), rising from software developer to
management before being offered an early retirement in 2001.
Armed with a "can-do attitude," she took an entry-level position as a screener with the newly formed Transportation Security
Administration and rose through the ranks once again, eventually becoming a logistics manager at O'Hare International
It takes a special kind of courage for a father of six to leave
Wall Street's upper echelons for the subtler rewards of teaching
high school. For Randy Porges '78, giving up a lucrative career
as an interest rate derivative broker to go back to school literally
saved his life. He resigned his position
at Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 105th floor
of the World Trade Center, just 20
months before 9/11, when most of his
former colleagues perished.
He is not the only Vassar alumnus
to turn away from a Wall Street career.
Top Barclays executive Amer Sajed '83
recently made headlines when he announced his plans to retire from his position as CEO of Barclaycard International to volunteer with grassroots
organizations working to help preserve
civil liberties. One of his inspirations
may be his wife, Elisabeth Livingston
Sajed '83, a former psychologist who
now works in the nonprofit sector for
Meals on Wheels.
Each of these accomplished professionals left a successful career to
blaze an exciting new trail. What made
them do it? randy Porges may offer
the best insight: "Change is good for
Author Nina Shengold's books include
River of Words: Portraits of Hudson
Valley Writers, with photographer
Jennifer May, and Clearcut.
PhotoPixels-Bruce Challgren / Edward Caldwell
-Lorraine Robell Sherman