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Maria Moore interview, August 2, 2019: transcript

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2019-08-02
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Interviewed by Elsa Lopez. Born in Belize, Director of AARP, speaks English, Spanish and Creole. Specialist in senior affairs.

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OH_03698_book
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OH-03698
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Moore, Maria Interview, 2019 August 2. OH-03698. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1jh3gw0k

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i AN INTERVIEW WITH MARIA MOORE An Oral History Conducted by Elsa Lopez Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Raul Gonzalez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Maria Moore (b. 1959 - ) is the State Director of AARP and dedicated to the wellbeing of seniors living in Nevada. She was born in Belize, a small country that did not have its independence until 1981. It was the place she called home, a place with a rich Mayan and Central American history, blessed with serene natural beauty. In this interview she describes her country, and her family, as poor but privileged by cultural diversity. She grew up speaking three languages: Creole, Spanish and English. In 1979, Maria immigrated to the United States to attend school. Immigration was easier during the “Reagan Years,” she explains. She smiles as she recalls her grandfather who had settled in California and found joy working as a janitor at a McDonald’s. It would be 1990, before she returned to her homeland. By then she had built a significant resume, had attended Cal State Fullerton, and had immersed herself into mastering the wellbeing of seniors; all would eventually lead her to successful positions with Catholic Charities and AARP. She reflects on how she has focused on strengthening her understanding of diversity and the type of leadership role that she aspired to. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Maria Moore August 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Elsa Lopez Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Born in 1959 in Belize; family calls her Teresita; moved to U.S. at age 17 or 18 with her grandfather; describes growing up in Belize; father was a plumber who spoke Creole and mother a homemaker who spoke Spanish, but learned English in school. Describes the population diversity of Belize, unaware of poverty; she speaks Creole, Spanish and English. Describes the country landscape, differences between northern and southern parts, Mayans, political corruption, drug trafficking culture, Mennonites and Amish, Chinese…………………………………………1 – 6 Talks about political and economic instability of Belize, she left in 1979 and did not return until 1990 or 1991, green card during Pres. Reagan years. More about her grandfather’s story, he immigrated to California where a daughter lived, loved being a janitor at a McDonald’s; divide between relatives who left Belize and those who did not; how long it took for immigration to occur for family members. Describes her journey to the U.S., visitor visa, enrolled in school, easier path during Reagan years; attended Cal State Fullerton; family issues…………………………....7 – 12 Tells about her studies in college, getting into the age related courses, internship in hospice, volunteer at a nursing home, job at Nohl Ranch Inn in Anaheim Hills in sales, then South County Senior Services doing home-delivered meals and recruited volunteers. Talks about her late husband Roy and getting married, and how she came to live in Las Vegas; job with Catholic Charities in 1994 or ’95; prejudice against her accented speaking…………………..….…..13 – 20 Talks about settling into a house at Decatur and Lone Mountain area; first impressions of the city and coming to call Nevada “home”; first job which was with seniors and learned about refugees through her co-workers; Deacon Joshua Alves. Catholic Charities Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and mentions other programs and people: Make a Difference Day, Monsignor C.T. Shallows, Three Square, and the experience of working with children at the I Have a Dream Foundation……………………………………………………………………………..…...21 – 28 Associate state director for outreach, a pilot project opportunity with AARP is her next career move; first in Idaho and then in North Carolina; struggle with securing a better opportunity locally. In 2009, faced her husband’s terminal illness and AARP’s national staff reduction; dealing with grief, loneliness, and being looking for an advancement at work—and finally getting the position with AARP she wanted……………………………………………………………………..29 – 35 vi Shares experiences of political conversation with her parents; learning of her salary disparity; negotiating for an increase and thoughts about racial impacts on opportunities; multicultural work within the community, perspective of North Las Vegas demographics. Describes her staff; issues they deal with in Nevada’s diversified community, insights on balancing politics and social injustices; parental differences with her, education and work; explaining what AARP has achieved…………………………………………………………………………………….36 – 43 Reflections on Catholicism and marriage expectations, her nephew Palito; Michael, his steps to coming to the United States, green card with no expiration date. Talks about combining cultural “Caucasian” and “Hispanic” backgrounds in marriage…………………………………….44 – 49 Talks about joining AARP in 2003 and her contributions to the organization here , community involvement and outreach; diversity of executives ; challenges to attracting Latinx population; LGBTQ population, Blacks and AAPI; Reno office operates on a smaller scale; impact of 2008 recession; success of AARP currently; talks about current priorities, such as caregiving and financial security for seniors. Talks about attracting members; driver safety and insurance savings; where they host events…………………………………………………………....................50 – 60 Reflects on languages spoken in the household due to blending of blending of heritages; Creole as a dialect of Belize; a bit about the history of Belize; population in 1990 when she arrived in Las Vegas; overview of native cuisine; family dinners and family socialization; enjoys old movies; talks about current events surrounding healthcare, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, City of Henderson application for age friendly status; selecting volunteers; thoughts about identifiers of Hispanic, Latino etc.; more about the political instability of the past.………………….….61 – 72 vii 1 The date is August second, 2019. My name is Elsa Lopez and I am here in the Oral History Resource Center. I am joined today with… Claytee White. Monserrath Hernandez. And Maria Moore. Maria Moore. Can you pronounce and spell your name, please? M-A-R-I-A, M-O-O-R-E. Thank you. Maria, how do you like to identify? Maria. We’re going to start off with your childhood. Can you tell us a bit about what it was like growing up? I was born in Belize in 1959. I am the fourth child. I was the first daughter for my parents, so I was really a great surprise—so I’ve been told. My parents are still alive and they live two miles from my house; they’re eighty-seven. I was told when I was born my father had been sent to Puerto Rico to study, so he did not see me until I was about six months old. I was very fortunate that my mother baptized me really quick and gave me my name and all that. Growing up I was never called Maria; I was called Teresita because my name is Maria Teresa de Jesus. I know exactly when I arrived in the United States by who calls me what. My family calls me Teresita and my new life in the U.S. was Maria, and the reason for that is people could not say Teresita. They would not say it the way I was used to hearing it and it was easier to just go to with first name. When I graduated from high school—I went to Catholic school all my life, and so I went to school with the same people, the same childhood friends through all my primary school, and 2 then I went to an all-girls high school, and so I have childhood friends from when I was three, four years old that I still communicate with. My best friend, we still communicate weekly. I consider that person my best friend even though I have friends here in the U.S. That is who I love and trust and they know me and knows my history. I think as an immigrant that’s a piece that you miss when you leave home, the connectivity, the continuity. I moved to the U.S. at the age of seventeen or eighteen with my grandfather who had already immigrated to the United States in California, and I also had an aunt who had immigrated to California. I have four brothers; I had a younger brother after me that was five years younger than me. I was raised as the only girl. My father has three other daughters, but I did not know them until I was much older. I’ve connected with them, and I have a very, very close relationship with one of them, so I got a sister in my thirties, and I love that piece of it. It’s nice to have sisters. I don’t know how it would have been growing up with a sister, but I know as an adult having a sister is wonderful to me. I can’t see myself not having that person who is not only connected through friendship but through blood. It’s a different. Going back to my grandfather, he decided that I needed better than what Belize could offer. Most people don’t know where Belize is. It’s in Central America. It’s the only English-speaking country in Central America. It’s south of Mexico. It is on the coastline and it’s tiny. I always comment—I work for AARP—that we have more AARP members in Nevada than we have people living in Belize. It’s probably three hundred and fifty thousand people. What was it like growing up there? Truly, I feel that anybody who grew up in my era in Belize grew up to truly understand and not even know how they understand colors, colors of people, and languages. I grew up with Chinese and black and Caribbean and people who were called ‘coolies’, who were beautiful, had silky 3 black hair and skin; and Caribs—their features were bold and they had their own language; and Mayans because we border Mexico and Guatemala. [There was] a richness in dialects and diversity; when you look at a classroom of children and you see colors. It’s not even a rainbow. It’s just colors. I think that for me when I came here and I had to learn diversity, it’s almost like trying to take a fabric apart because I grew up in a truly diverse country. Going back to Belize now, times have changed, but we used to walk to school. We used to walk home at noon for meals, our main meals at noon, and we used to walk back to school. I was raised Catholic, so I went to the Catholic elementary school. If you were born Wesley, you went to the Wesley elementary school. If you were born Jehovah, you went to the Jehovah elementary school. But at noontime and at the end of the day you all walked together home to your community, so you could be living next to somebody who went to a different school, but you belonged to a neighborhood. I think that that richness, no one can ever take that away. I just know that that’s made me who I am today. I don’t have to learn diversity. It’s almost like I am shocked—not so much now because you get callus to a lot of things, but when I first came it was not easy to understand when I stood out because I went to California in a very white community. I had an accent. Suddenly you have a spotlight on you. That was very hard. In Belize, we didn’t know if we were poor or rich; it didn’t matter. What was the neighborhood like? Neighborhoods? If people go there now, they would say there is a lot of poverty, but growing up I never felt that there was a lot of poverty. The streets might not have been paved. There were wooden homes. We had hurricanes. We never ate out; you went home to eat. I find it very interesting that people go out to eat so much. I do it here, but there you never went out. You went out to eat on a birthday as a luxury. There were not that many restaurants. You went to the ice 4 cream shop for socialization and you went to libraries. We never had TV until I was maybe fifteen or sixteen; we did not. I remember going home and hearing the 11:45 little snippet of storytelling. It was like the novelas, but they were storytelling. We had a lot of radio and we had a lot of freedom and playtime. It’s not that way there anymore. It’s not that way here. It’s global. Belize has a saying that if United States sneezes, Belize catches a cold, because Belize is so dependent on people from abroad; they all have somebody abroad. What has changed is that when the economy tanked here, then it affects what can be sent home. One of the sayings that I heard last night is that people really want to be where they want to be. People come here because they have to sometimes. Yes, I think my childhood was…Belize is below sea level, so we get lots of flooding. It would rain and the canals were really bad canals. Outhouses were public, over the canals. It was just a way of life. In hindsight I think really I should be a sick person because the streets would flood and you don’t know what came out of those canals and we would be walking through that water. Everybody did it. It was just really a free environment, really free. I am lucky. My parents are still together. That, I think, has a lot to do with a lot of things. What did your parents do at the time? My father was a plumber, a successful plumber in Belize. My mother was always a homemaker; that was her job. She never knew anything, but even today she wants to cook, and she wants to clean, and she wants to serve. She doesn’t want me to wash the dishes, and I’m fine with that. I’m actually fine with that. You don’t want me to wash your dishes, Mother? I’m fine with that. To my mom we spoke Spanish. To my dad we spoke Creole. But we were taught in school in proper English, so our teachers spoke to us in English. When I came here—I still hear 5 this—people would say, “You speak English so well.” And I say, “So do you.” I said, “No, really, you do too.” How many languages do you speak? I only speak Spanish and English and our Belize dialect, Creole. Can you describe what the nature and environment was like in Belize? What do you mean by ‘nature and environment?’ All I know of Belize is what I’ve seen, for example, in tourist books, so I see that there is a lot of wildlife. Belize is very, very beautiful. The city of Belize is very, very ugly. I will be the first to say that. I don’t think it used to be ugly, but I think it’s very ugly now. Belize has beautiful coastlines. It boasts the second largest barrier reef. It’s a diver’s paradise. If you want to dive, go there. If you go inland there is jungles and there is a rainforest. The amount of rain can be over a hundred inches a year in some areas, not unlike here where if we got a hundred inches of rain, we would be underwater. But there it’s not unusual to have five, six inches of rain a day in some areas, and so you have this gorgeous wildlife and birds and flowers. On the coastline you have the beautiful sand and the fish and the reefs and it’s so very beautiful. What has happened over time is that the building and the hotels have taken a lot of the shoreline and when we grew up was virgin coastlines. You would go there and have coastline. Now what happens is you have to actually try to find where that virgin coastline is. Growing up, I used to go to the northern part of the country. For holidays we would go to the Keys. Now I go to the southern part of the country as an adult because it’s just less people there. In the north part, however, there is more of a Mayan and Hispanic culture. In the southern part, there is more black cultures, black Caribs, and very different; people are very different from 6 one part of the country to the other. You’re talking about a country that’s a hundred and eighty miles long and no more than seventy miles wide, but it takes you all day to travel from one and to the other. It’s also a Mayan civilization, so we have some gorgeous Mayan temples. Wherever you see a mound, there’s probably something there. They have preserved a lot of it, but a lot of it is—it’s a very corrupt political environment, so whoever is in government, they can give you that mound and you can go build your house. It’s politics. In politics growing up, we had two parties. It’s a commonwealth and two parties and your prime minister, and you vote for one party or the other. It was corrupt then, but it’s even more now because growing up you never saw that kind of wealth that you see now. Now you see mansions, mansions that you would see here that are million-dollar mansions in a Belize where you know that a Belize salary. It just is not possible…It also became at some point a gateway place for drugs, and so that has a lot to do with it. There is a lot of people who have lost their lives for wet drops, where they make these drops in the sea and then if you take it and you suddenly have it, you get killed. They’re called wet drops; they are bundles of cocaine or something that they drop in the sea because it’s shallow and then they know where to pick it up. It’s awful. Yet, you can go through Belize, which the roads are horrible, and then you go into the Mennonites and the Amish community. We have the Mennonites and the Amish people, still horse and buggy. They may own a vehicle, but they never drive it; they hire somebody to drive it. Some of them still do their lands the way the Amish people did. You go into the Mennonite area, which is called Spanish Lookout, and they keep their roads and everything beautiful. CLAYTEE: Did they migrate from Pennsylvania? 7 They’ve always been there. They’ve always been there from what I know. I don’t know where they came from, but they’ve always been there, so have the Chinese. A lot of Chinese I grew up with, and a lot of Hindu. When did all of this political and economic instability begin to worsen? I left there about 1979 and I didn’t go back for more than ten years. I didn’t go back until…I got my green card during the Reagan years. I didn’t go back until probably 1990, ’91. Even then it was nice. Then I went back maybe—I think in the last twenty years it’s gotten worse. I think the corruption is more blatant. However, I still love visiting Belize. Your now husband, he also lived in Belize? My husband, when I left Belize, he went to New York. His brother took him to New York on a trip. Still today, people buy cars and take them down there and sell them. I came to California with my grandfather. My grandfather told me that he would get me to California, but the rest would be up to me. Can you tell us a bit more about that story? Actually, your grandfather’s story first. My grandfather was a logger and he would tell stories—he lived to be a hundred and one and a half. That half is important because he outlived his brother. He wanted people to know that his brother only lived to be a hundred and one. The big logs, the huge logs, tree logs, they would have to bring them from the southern part of the country to the river up north to send abroad. They sent it with sugar. Sugarcane was always exported to England and all that. You would see the big barges of sugar, huge barges of raw sugar. He would log these things where when the river was high tide, they would have to actually hoist these things over the river when it was low tide to get them to where they wanted. 8 He was older when he came to the United States because his daughter lived in California and had immigrated here and had children that were born here, my first cousins. I have cousins that were born here. When he immigrated here I know he must have been in his sixties, late sixties. What year was this, do you know? If I came in 1979, he was here a few years before. He wasn’t a young man. When he came, he decided that he was going to work. He would walk to McDonald’s as a janitor. He loved his job. When he talked about his job, he loved his job. To us it might be a menial job, but he loved his job and he loved his hamburgers. My father and my aunt in California were from the same mother and father. Then my grandmother, I never knew her. She died when my dad was very young. My grandfather’s sister raised my dad and my aunt. My great-aunt recently died, could not have been much older than them; you’re talking about almost a child, a young teenager raising her brother’s children. Then my grandfather had a common-law wife after that that she had I don’t know how many kids. When my grandfather died I met an aunt who said, “I’m your aunt,” and I said, “You are?” She said, “Well, your brother knows.” I’m like, “Okay, if you’re my aunt can you give me a ride to the cemetery?” There were a lot of kids, like fifteen kids. I don’t know how many kids because there were kids from all over the place. I have an uncle who looks like my father who they swear my grandfather is not the father, but he looks like my dad. My dad and my aunt were like the privileged children in that era. Still today, there’s not a lot of connectivity between my aunts and uncles that stayed and Belize and my dad and my aunt who are in the U.S. There is that divide, clear divide that they belong to one mother and my dad belonged to one mother. 9 But my grandfather loved his job at McDonald’s, loved his job. He did not make a lot of money. At the age of, I don’t know, he must have been ninety and he decided he was going to go back to his common-law wife to take care of her. He took care of her. There were times when he lived with my brother in Belize. Now, when I immigrated, I was the first one to immigrate from my family. When my last brother who wanted to come to the United States, because I still have a brother who did not want to come to the United States, immigrated—when we filed his papers, his youngest daughter was not even born. When they immigrated, she was thirteen; it took that long for the last of my brothers to immigrate. In fact, my nephew who lives with me was not twenty-one. He was maybe nineteen at the time, twenty. That’s the length of time it has taken for my family to unify in the United States through legal immigration. It’s long. It really is long. When my grandfather went back, he stayed. He would always say, “There is these things that I want. I want you to come back when I die.” There was another thing. “If you go across the border, bring me a burger.” I would go visit my grandfather and I would tell him, “I’m only here for ten days, so you need to start dying now because we have to give you your wake and we have to go bury you.” I know it sounds morbid, but it’s not. It was a running joke between us. Let’s get it done. When his common-law wife died, he was devastated, but he said he was not ready to die. He said, “Oh, no, no, no, I’m not ready to die.” He lived many more years, many more years. He lived with my brother at one point and then he lived independent with a cousin of mine who would take care of him. But he lived long. He lived really long. It’s interesting, he wanted to go back home. I could not see my grandfather living to be an old man in the United States. When I think back on it, like right now I’m thinking of it, I think, what would my grandfather be like if he had lived his latter years here? 10 My aunt, who was raised by my dad, now, on the other hand, lived in a nursing home the last years of her life and she loved it because they catered to her. She never felt like that was a horrible place. To her that was like they were bringing her her food— Royal treatment. Yes, to her. I think it’s what you got as a child. Comparison to her, this is like royalty versus working hard maybe from when you were eleven or twelve, taking care of kids and putting them through school. From what I hear, my dad was very spoiled. A lot of bike riding in Belize. If he would ride his bike to the bridge and his shirt was wet, he would go back home for another pristine ironed shirt. For my aunt, I look at it and I thought, yes, she would think that’s royalty. It’s what you have to compare with. But my grandfather did go back and eventually died. I did carry him into the church and I did make sure I was there for his burial. It was really interesting. But he brought me to the U.S. and he did say, “You will do this on your own.” Can you tell us about your journey over here? When I went to high school in Belize, the system was very unfair. When you look back at it, it was the have and have-nots. If you came from a family that could send you abroad—because we did not have a university; we had two years of junior college that you could do and that was it. Now there is a university and there is Galen University and there are many more opportunities. If you did not have any money, you would be tracked into business track for four years and you would take cooking and sewing, business, typing, and shorthand and all that. But if you had money, you would take the biology and algebra and the things to prepare you for college abroad. I went into the business track. The fourth years of my schooling they decided they needed to change things around and I took some biology. But when I think back on it, yes, I was prepared 11 to be a secretary, but I don’t think that was ever my fate in life. By the grace of God, I think my grandfather must have seen something that I didn’t see. I really think that when I think of him, he saw something in me that I, myself, did not see. My parents were struggling at the time. Times were tough for them, and so it was easier for them to just tell my grandpa to bring me. I came in on a visitor visa. I got enrolled in school and I stayed. I got a job; it was easy to do then. You could get your Social Security; you could get a job. It was easy. It was not hard. I overstayed my time, and shortly after that President Reagan granted asylum. I remember going to Catholic Charities in La Habra, California. I paid maybe two hundred and eighty dollars to get my paperwork and I got my green card. But along the way there were people who, I know, helped me because I went to school; I went to junior college. I paid my own way. I went to Cal State Fullerton. I never had debt. Today I have so much debt. I made so little money in my first year in the U.S. I remember this woman Wanda who said, “Maria, you’ve got to budget your money and save your money because if you’re going to go to school, you have to have this much money by the time the next semester comes and the next semester comes.” But I will tell you what I did. I would not tell people where I was from. I would not. There was a period of my life that I—I don’t say suffered, but I can’t recall anyone from that period of my life. I had no friends. I worked and I went to school. There was no communication. There was no Facetime. No cell phone. There was no nothing. My hardest days was when I moved to my aunt’s house because my grandfather lived with my aunt, and so I lived there. The cultural differences…My cousin was a month older than me. She was this modern young lady. She was always dressed to the nines. She knew how to fix her hair and makeup. I mean, she did fashion merchandizing; that was her career. Here was me who was a blue jean little country girl 12 from this little Belize place. I wasn’t a misfit, but I wasn’t her. To my aunt, she wanted to mold me more to the U.S. ways, and so when I didn’t fit, it became a real crisis. One day I left; I left my aunt’s house. I said, “I’m leaving.” My aunt says, “Well, I’m going to turn you in.” And I said to her—I cried. I remember crying, but I said, “Don’t do that, you will never see me again and I’m going.” This is not a story that I’ve told or repeated because I made amends to myself. But I left there and I never looked back. There were many years, many years that I did not communicate with my parents, I did not communicate with my aunt, but my grandfather always knew where I worked and he always checked in on me. There were periods of time where I wouldn’t see him and then he knew where I worked. It’s not like they didn’t know where I worked, but it was a fear that they gave me, that in hindsight I know they wouldn’t have done it. But when I left Belize—this is not atypical—when I left Belize my mother gave me some of her jewelry and said, “This belongs to you.” When I left my aunt, she said, “Give the jewelry to your aunt because we don’t trust you.” I said, “No.” To this day I still have that jewelry. My mom will look at it and say, “Yes, she kept it; it’s like redemption.” But there was a period where…And I channel that; I really channel what could have made me very bitter and angry, I said, “I’m going to prove that I’m going to make something of myself.” I graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in gerontology. I walked by myself; I didn’t invite not a soul. I thought, you guys don’t deserve to see me walk. And I went by myself. I remember that feeling. I said, “No, just because I have nobody doesn’t mean I’m not going to walk.” For me it was to prove to myself that I had done it. I remember doing that. CLAYTEE: What kind of work were you doing? 13 I was a gift wrapper at a hardware store that had a gift shop in it; that was my first job here. Can you tell us about your time at university? There is nothing to tell in that era. I have no friends. I have no connections. I have nothing from that era. What I have is my degree and I had my future. Tell us about what you studied. I really wanted to study special education kids. The reality of life is that my economic situation would not allow me to be a teacher. To be a teacher you had to teach for a part of your studies. When I think about it, I would say, you know what? I tracked exactly where I was supposed to be because had it not been for that I would not have taken gerontology and that is where my sweet spot is. That is where I belong, in the aging field. Can you tell us about the classes you took to get that gerontology degree and what you learned? When I went to the community college, I ended up with a lot of “ology” courses. I ended up with, like, ninety “ology” courses and I’m thinking, why can’t I graduate? You only need sixty to graduate. I overstayed my time. When I went to the university I decided to be much smarter, but because I had all these “ology” courses and not a lot of guidance, I kind of self-guided myself and said, “Okay, what’s the best place to go?” Then I wanted to do sociology, but I hated my sociology class. I hated it, absolutely hated it. I was like, this is not for me. When I got into psychology and I got into the aging classes, even death and dying and those courses, I just felt like that’s where I belonged. It didn’t scare me. When you deal with the aging field, there is a lot of life there. There is a lot of celebrating to do. In fact, I even did an internship in hospice, and when I did hospice I thought, jeez, these are people that you celebrate life with because they are acknowledging that they’re going to die; and yet, they can live. It 14 fascinated me. And so not doing special ed children, thoughts are things and the stars are aligned and I’m right where I need to be. I was so determined to make something of myself that honestly that’s all I could see. I worked. I went to school. On Sundays I would go to a nursing home and volunteer. I remember thinking that these woman’s nails needed to be cleaned because they would scratch themselves and it was horrible. I did it. Even then I thought, I need to do s