Carnegie Mellon University

Volunteer of the Month of June 2018

June 05, 2018

Volunteer of the Month - Ann Augustine

By Jonathan Decker

When you meet Ann Augustine, her positivity is apparent. She’s engaging. She smiles readily. She answers questions willingly and warmly.

Ann, an Osher member who’s volunteered for a variety of activities, including front desk and computer work, since fall 2017, is emphatic when she describes what Osher means to her. “Because I want to keep learning. I don’t want to stop. It’s an avenue to learn about new things, and maybe it will lead me down different trails.”

Ann’s appreciation of Osher’s broader value for members and volunteers reflects a similar sensibility. “It encourages people who are changing directions, mostly retiring, to keep learning, and to learn about topics that they didn’t have the opportunity to learn about during their careers... Things that are fun to explore but you didn’t have time to think about or take when you were going to college, when you’re raising a family, when you’re in the midst of your career. Really, that’s quite special.”

As far as classes are concerned, Ann has taken several, including an introduction to Hinduism, one about opera, another about early Christian writing, as well as a course on bird migration. A member of the choir in college, she makes special mention of the opera class, calling it “excellent.” She notes, “The icing on the cake was after every class, one person from each opera sang an aria or [another operatic component], which was wonderful.”

She enjoys Osher’s informal learning style as well. She says with a smile, “It’s all of us old people who’ve graduated and had careers, and now we can learn without exams and dabble with different things.”

Ann’s path to Osher reveals a pieces-together approach to retirement, which included doing volunteer work for a hospice as well as joining an organization for university women--both of which eventually led her to Osher through friends she made along the way. However, her take on how to accomplish these rewarding and personal connections is simple. “The key, I think, to that, is joining an organization and meeting new people, which leads you down different roads.”

Ann, who has been retired since 2010, taught special education for 20 years and also first and second grade. She describes her experience as a special education teacher as particularly enlightening. “It opens your eyes to that everybody is different, and sometimes we try to put round pegs in square holes.”

When it comes to retirement, Ann says, “The freedom is wonderful,” and she also strikes a philosophical note. “I just feel like it’s a new phase of life, and I can still have a purpose, and that’s what I’m trying to do.” She adds, “It’s trying on new coats, and just trying to find one that fits. That’s really what I’ve been doing.”

Ann and her husband have been married 43 years. They have a daughter and two sons, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and two adorable granddaughters, aged 5 and 8.