By Aakriti Gupta
Elm Staff Writer
What do you think your life will look like when you’re 100 years old? Many people might not have thought about an age that seems so far away. When I think about myself at 100, I can think of nothing but my funeral. If by any stroke of luck I am still in fact alive I see myself being hooked up to a million medical machines and monitors on my way to death.
A recent event that came to my attention completely changed my mind: a teacher at Sundance School in New Jersey celebrating her 100th birthday. Agnes Zhelesnik, commonly known as “Granny” by all her students, turned 100 this year and is still a working woman. She’s a well-to-do woman who doesn’t work for the money, but because she is passionate about it.
Her zest and zeal for life and work at such an age is something that I found extremely inspirational. A home economics teacher, she is the oldest living teacher in America. Earlier in life she wasn’t allowed to work as her husband did not like her working out of the house. Instead, he preferred her taking care of their children, then their grandchildren. Only started working at the school at the age of 81. It is extraordinary to give life a new meaning at that age. I found this incredibly moving.
Most people all around the world work until retirement then spend their life travelling and relaxing. It is the money that acts as the stimulant and not the passion for the job. Zhelesnik takes such pleasure in her work that she hasn’t once called in sick since 1998. We as teenagers and adults call in sick for school or work at least once in two or three months, which we can all agree on through personal experiences. Zhelesnik’s strong work ethic and her love for her students makes her my hero and teaches me a valuable life lesson.
We, too, have an example of such excellence at Washington College. Linda Shifflet, a 68-year-old woman who works at the café and the Miller Library and Java George. Like Zheleknisk, Shifflet works because she loves working and sees no point in living the life of a retired woman. Shifflet is too used to having a schedule and being busy. Having led the retired life for a couple of years, she got tired of watching television all day, going out for lunches with friends and family and doing nothing. Hence, she preferred to get a job and lead the life of a busy woman. She is also very fond of working here at WC because she finds it interesting to work with youngsters who are optimistic and full of life.
It is a delight to know of powerful woman like these two and know their stories. Learning about these women makes me re-think my future and my goals, pushing towards becoming more ambitious. It is now that I realize how giving up is not an option anymore, and I owe this to these inspiring women and their lives.