Worcester State University
Intergenerational Urban Institute


Judith Rowland Knight



During high school I did extensive babysitting including sleep-over time caring for three children and vacationing with them in Maine and assisting a mother caring for 5 children for a month on Cape Cod. After dropping out of Worcester State College in 1965 where I was studying to be an elementary school teacher, I took my first job selling men’s and boy’s clothing in a department store. I enjoyed the work and subsequently got a job through family connections as an assistant to the buyer in a high end men’s and boy’s clothing store. I was admittedly not good at the job. I did enjoy being on the floor with the salespeople and the customers but did not enjoy working on the books in a little cubicle all by myself. I was replaced by a woman with ties to the business who needed a job. She later married my boss.

I had hoped to be a VISTA volunteer working with the retarded in West Virginia but I was rejected as too inexperienced. Through a clergy friend of my family I got a job as a governess at a residential private school for the mentally retarded where I ate all my meals with the children, bathed, dressed and played outside with them, even in the winter, residing with the other governesses in a separate building. A boyfriend who lived in Worcester urged me to apply to work at the Worcester State Hospital so that I could be closer to him.  I worked successfully with the adult mentally retarded there where the Nurses urged me to become a nurse through the Associate’s Nursing program at Quinsigamond Community college . I did attend, in part with a scholarship, dropped out at one point but did return, and after three years graduated in 1970 with high honors. I took the nursing boards and started my career as a Registered Nurse.

I have worked in Nursing homes both full and part time including 8 years on and off in a facility where I was the only nurse on duty.  I have worked with the mentally ill in various hospitals for over 18 years, mostly in state institutions, holding positions as staff and charge nurse and as supervisor. Most of the time spent working in State hospitals was during a time when there were few nurses for many patients. I was ANCC Certified as an Adult Psychiatric Nurse for over 20 years, and ANCC certified as a Nurse Manager for 5 years.

A close friend, a public school teacher, told me about the elder educational program at WSU. Although I had missed the registration time Dr. Power and Fran Langille encouraged me and guided me and so my new life as an older student began. The experience has been extremely rewarding.

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