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Returning to Work after Retirement: Beverly’s Story

separator For some people, retirement is a welcome ending to a life of going to work. For others, it’s the end of working in one field and the beginning of working in another.

Beverly Allison retired from her job as an elementary school librarian in Tennessee when she was 65. She had been working for 25 years at that point. She and her husband Clem had decided they would retire at the same time, so he retired that year too. “We had made that our finishing mark at that point of our lives,” she said.

Now, Beverly is 70 and since she retired, she has completed a pharmacy technician degree from a community college. She’s already board-certified, and she’s currently looking for part-time work in that field.

Some retirement, eh?

It turns out that even before Beverly went back to school for her pharmacy tech degree, she was quite busy in her retirement. “I knew that when I retired I wanted to do volunteer work. I wanted to give back.” Her first project was automating her church library. “That was very productive,” she says. “And it’s ongoing. Now I’m helping a senior girl scout catalogue children’s books at the library.”

She then began doing volunteer work at her hospital. “I did what you might imagine a librarian would do at the hospital—I took the book cart around,” she says. She also became involved in the women’s center at the hospital, where she collaborated with another woman to catalogue material for the media center.

It seems there’s a great need for retired librarians in this world. Beverly would have been able to stay busy and productive using the skills she already had.

But, as she says, “There was a bright light shining, saying ‘hey, try something new.’ I decided to go back to school and get my pharmacy technician degree. The Walters State Community College is about a 35 to 40 minute commute from where I live, and they have a good program there. I said to myself, ‘As you grow older, you’ll be using some of those pharmaceuticals yourself.’ I’m the kind of person who likes to know all about what I’m taking, so I thought it would be a good program for me. Plus I knew it was a growing field. Plus I liked it. I liked learning about nutrition and wellness, and I even liked doing the math problems.”

Going back to school as an older person wasn’t a problem for Beverly at all. She was struck sometimes by the difference in ages between her and the youngest students, since some of them were only 17, but she enjoyed the experience. “I was really the Mother Theresa there,” she jokes. “I learned all about tattoos and body piercing,” she laughs, “but I never felt compelled to get any of that.”

She did have to take tests on the computer while she was in school. “I wasn’t used to that,” she says. But it didn’t stop her from getting a 95 on her algebra final.

Beverly’s husband has been supportive of her new venture. “He’s good with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” she says. “He’d pack a fold-over peanut butter sandwich and half a banana for me on days when I had to rush from one class to the next.”

How long does Beverly plan to work in her second career? “As long as I’m fit, I’ll keep working,” she says. “I do have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which I inherited, but I’m on medication. And I stay active.

“And now,” she said, “I have to go. I’m about to go for a walk in the park with Clem.”

Interview with Beverly Allison
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