Linda Becker

Forty years ago, graduating from Pomona as a non-career-minded female raised in the 50’s, I fell back on the secretarial skills my businessman father had insisted I get. After a year in the business world, however, I felt the need to do more and returned to school. So I got an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling at SF State and worked for the CA Department of Vocational Rehab for several years. I handled the counseling part pretty well but lacked the confidence and boldness to find employers to hire my disabled clients, and that was the whole purpose of the agency.

So I returned to secretarial work which led me this time to the Bay Area labor relations firm where I worked for 26 years. As the research assistant to several negotiators, I found the job challenging and satisfying, albeit many times extremely stressful. But I honed my analytical and communication skills and became adept at asking for information from almost anyone, anytime -– skills that have proven invaluable throughout my life. Eventually the job and I outgrew each other and, as I noted in the Fall `96 PC Bulletin, it was “…time for a change … to something sufficiently stimulating but not as stressful.”

The years since 1997 have brought numerous changes. I bought my first house just as I left my job. I tried self-employment and worked at temp jobs for the two years I spent looking for another “niche.” Finally a position found me (quite literally) and I am executive assistant to the head of a custom lighting design firm in Berkeley. I love working in such an interesting company with such a great bunch of people. (I really feel that way. Age and experience do bring perspective and appreciation, after all!)

During those years I lost one very special friend and found another. Graeme started out as my Bible teacher, became a dear friend and, in many ways, my mentor. She had a sharp mind, a keen wit, and a generous heart. She was curious about everyone and everything. Because she was born in 1904, she met or knew through her family many of the movers and shakers of the early 20th Century and she had a delightful way of telling stories about them. Over the years I got a glimpse through her of just how small the world once had been. Last year Graeme died at the age of 97, but she lived and enjoyed virtually every one of those years and I learned much from her.

In the meantime I had convinced my mother to move to the Bay Area to be near me and other family members. While Mom and I had gotten to know each other much better in the years since my father had died, having her live nearby has allowed us to become really close friends. I consider myself truly blessed to still have her in my life and I cherish the time we have together. And my sister and her husband have visited more often from Florida since much of the family is now Northern California, another blessing.

Through the years my faith has been my rock. The spiritual questions of my youth were answered in my twenties through Bible study with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I have been a part of that worldwide congregation ever since. Having turned away from teaching in college (I was an Ed Psych major), I’ve now found that my greatest joy is in teaching. I’ve had the pleasure and satisfaction of teaching and helping people understand the Bible for many years, and hope to be able to participate in this activity more fully when I’m able to cut back on my working life.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the impact Pomona has had on me. I believe, however, that the simple fact of being accepted by Pomona was a huge boost in the right direction. And while we may decry the fact that Pomona didn’t prepare us for a “real job in the real world,” I know the exposure to such a vast array of ideas and fields of interest helped me greatly, perhaps especially in my working life.

When I think of Pomona, my first thought is the beauty and peace of the campus. For me that was the basis for everything that followed. It was an ivory tower, a cocoon, but for me it was the right place at the right time. Maybe our class had something to do with it too -- the class reunions I’ve attended in recent years have certainly reinforced that thought! Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this year, but I truly will be with you in thought and spirit and look forward to hearing all about it.

Linda, her mother, and her sister