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Life-long learner takes classes through senior citizens’ program

by Marcia Roth Tucci - May 1, 2006

When Rosalind Hoffman started college in 1963, the Hartford Campus was located at the Goodwin Estate Mansion on the corner of Asylum Avenue and Woodside Circle.

At that time, Hoffman was no ordinary student. Married, with her oldest child entering college and two others still at home, it took a lot of determination for her to get a degree.

“Back then, not many people understood why a middle-aged woman would be so determined to get an education,” says the 85-year-old. “Even my husband wondered why I put so much effort into my studies when the housework needed to get done.”

But for Hoffman, it was just a beginning. “Once I got started,” she says, “I just couldn’t let go.”

Hoffman earned a degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in counseling, and became a teacher. But she was not done with her education.

After retiring in 1992, she began taking courses through the UConn’s Senior Citizen and Credit Course program. The program allows senior citizens to audit courses with available seats for $15 per semester.

This semester, there are 11 seniors registered at the Greater Hartford Campus through the program.

Hoffman attends two courses each semester. She walks to campus on sunny days, driving only when it rains or snows.

“I still approach each class with purpose. I don’t want to miss a thing,” she says. “Taking classes has given me a life in retirement.”

Psychology professor Roger Chaffin enjoyed having Hoffman in his class.

“It was nice to have someone in my course who was so genuinely interested in the material just for the sake of learning,” he says.

“She has lived such a long and interesting life, and was able to make many connections to the material.”

Besides attending classes, Hoffman tutors fourth grade reading, attends lectures at the UConn Health Center, participates in Elderhostel courses, and has volunteered as a research subject in a study at the Greater Hartford Campus.

Hoffman, the first in her family to earn a college degree, was born and raised in Hartford, the daughter of Polish/Russian immigrants.

“My mother worked as a door-to-door salesperson,” Hoffman says.

Rosalind Hoffman
Rosalind Hoffman
Photo by Frank Butash

“I worked after school in the neighborhood shops. There simply wasn’t any money for college.”

Hoffman’s first “real” job was at G. Fox & Co. wrapping bundles in the domestics department. She was later given a job filing.

In 1938, Rosalind married. While her husband attended college in Colorado, she took a course in drafting and worked in the physics department.

During World War II, she got a job drafting for the military.

“I never took a typing course as my father had suggested,” says Hoffman.

“I did not want to be a secretary, I wanted to go to college.”

After the couple returned to Connecticut, they eventually bought a house close to the Hartford campus.

Hoffman was 43 years old when she took her first college course.

“Once, I took a physics class, and I just couldn’t understand it,” Hoffman says.

“I found out the professor taught the same course on different days, so I attended both of them, and I passed.”

Hoffman took two years of undergraduate studies at UConn’s Hartford Campus in the Goodwin Estates Mansion.

Then, unable to commute to Storrs to complete her degree, she transferred to Central Connecticut State University and graduated in 1968.

She went on to complete a master’s degree, and taught second grade for many years.

“I really am lucky to have lived long enough to enjoy the American dream,” Hoffman says.

“Education made all the difference in the world.”  

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