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Humans of UWW: Meet Carol McShane

Jul 25, 2022

Eighty-one-year-old UWW alumna Carol McShane '11 is a First Generation college graduate from Deerfield, Massachusetts. She obtained her degree from University Without Walls with a concentration in human services, specifically end of life issues. She has been a hospice volunteer for twenty-five years.

Every adult student has a story. What’s your story?

Upon graduating from high school, it was my intention, and that of my parents even more so, that I should do the honors of being the first person in our family to attend college. The pursuit of a degree in the mental health field was the objective, but after attending a single year of college, I left those dreams behind to marry and move from this coast to the west coast with my military husband. Throughout the years, I did enroll and complete several psychology courses which I enjoyed, but never picked up where I had left off in 1959–1960. In 2008, I decided to enroll in Greenfield Community College and received an associate degree in human services. The interest and the long-latent enjoyment I found in learning was further piqued when a representative from UWW gave a presentation prior to my GCC graduation. It was then that I decided to finish what I had started and complete my long-overdue education. I often wonder, if I had not attended that presentation, would I be writing this now? The result of my enrollment and graduation from UWW was a major accomplishment. I enjoy telling others that 2011 was a very good year for three reasons: I turned 70, I celebrated my 50th wedding anniversary, and I graduated from college, all in the span of three months!

How did finishing your degree through the University Without Walls at UMass Amherst change your life?

University Without Walls allowed me to carry on with my hospice volunteer work and enabled me to care for my aging parents while still finding time to work on my degree. There was no need to use precious time in driving to classes, yet it still afforded me no less of a strong learning opportunity. There was always access to an instructor whenever the need arose. I have been a volunteer for hospice for twenty-five years and enjoy the work immensely. Though I had learned most of life’s lessons in advance of my degree, I am far more assured and confident with the knowledge I attained at UWW.

Talk about a staff member/professor who has made a difference in your life.

Elizabeth Brinkerhoff was my advisor. I felt very connected to her and enjoyed our meetings and felt the genuine caring I am sure she showed to all who were fortunate enough to have her as an instructor. I remember fondly our final meeting when Elizabeth brought cherry scones and poured us both some tea!


*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the person being featured and do not necessarily reflect those of the University.