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Mayor of Waltham speaks at WSRC

Mayor of Waltham speaks at WSRC

By Emily Sorkin Smith

Section: Featured, News

March 27, 2015

Mayor of Waltham Jeanette McCarthy spoke to the scholars of the Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC) Tuesday afternoon, March 24 at an event called “Tea, Cookies and Conversation with Waltham Mayor Jeanette McCarthy.” In attendance were scholars from the WSRC, representatives from the Waltham Committee and other community members. McCarthy, who has been mayor of Waltham since 2004 and a resident of the city her entire life, answered questions from WSRC Director Shulamit Reinharz Ph.D. ’77 and from the audience.

Rebecca Groner ’17 was one of the first to speak at the event. As a member of the WSRC’s Waltham Committee, Groner worked to organize and publicize the event. “The ultimate goal was to connect Brandeis to Waltham by introducing the WSRC and Brandeis community to the mayor, who is a very interesting and inspiring woman … I think it’s important for us, as students, to be more aware of what is going on right across the street from Brandeis and to stay engaged with the Waltham community,” Groner write in an email to The Brandeis Hoot.

Once Reinharz and other scholars had introduced themselves to the mayor, McCarthy began to answer questions. She started by describing her life growing up in Waltham. She told the audience that she was a very shy child. Her family lived in various locations in Waltham, including a housing project for the families of veterans. McCarthy’s father, a World War II veteran, went to Boston University under the G.I. Bill, and her mother left school early to provide for her siblings. McCarthy went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Boston College with a B.S. in Biology, acquire an M.S. from Northeastern, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. McCarthy worked as an attorney in a private practice for many years before working for the city of Waltham.TlezElZ24mRQl-7KM3fEyBWI35PlqQTN1iGqcn48ukY,gxNHBlAQqhi0X5sH8jse8Mvok2g192Ie-bJTpPC5Qgc

McCarthy’s love of learning and education was evident throughout her talk. “I was what they called a ‘school-baby.’ I loved school … I was the first class in Waltham High School, of girls, to have physics in high school,” she explained. She said that her parents tried to encourage her to be less shy, and she first began to come out of her comfort zone while working one of her first jobs, as a production supervisor for an electronics company.

She said that her supervisory position, where she was in charge of 75 employees, was “the best thing that ever happened to me … I learned something that is something I never could have learned in school, there are all types of people in the world.”

McCarthy experienced firsthand the difficulties of being a woman in local politics. “There is a good old boys network, yes … You could always run for school committee, but you weren’t allowed to go for Council,” she said. “They [men] could get elected, really, because of the population. It’s not that they didn’t want them, it’s that you could reach them.”

She, along with other female politicians in Waltham, was eventually able to overcome these prejudices and work for her hometown.

Before being elected as the mayor of Waltham, she served six years on the Waltham School Committee and two years as a councilor-at-large. She also spent seven years working as a city solicitor for Waltham.

McCarthy spent a portion of the discussion focusing on the improving relationship between Brandeis and the Waltham Community. One factor at play in this continuing improvement is the presence of the Waltham Group, which gives students the opportunity to work directly with the residents of Waltham and serve the community. QQQiozkkBA4g66WCoWi7C7bB8Yo6KDUTBXxT-0js8p4,hLQo-e7jKeZMk2-c_m6vckBZcSxzodYM8K9lqN_C2zoWaltham Group programs are the most popular community service programs on campus, serving a variety of different community needs. According to their website, hundreds of Brandeis students volunteer their time through the Waltham Group every year.

In Groner’s speech at the beginning of the event, she explained why commitment to community service is so important to her, and why she finds McCarthy so inspiring.

“We make the most of our time at Brandeis by getting excited about service and getting out into Waltham. Mayor McCarthy exemplifies the importance of giving back to your community,” Groner said. “Let us stay inspired by Mayor McCarthy so we, too, can truly seize opportunities to lose ourselves in the service of others.”

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