Someday, Rosemarie Lowe will retire for a second time. But don’t expect the 71-year-old recent La Salle University graduate to do it soon.
She works as a counselor for Gaudenzia, a drug and alcohol treatment center. When she was hired three years ago, it was with the expectation she would earn a bachelor’s degree in social work—which she did—and later earn a master’s degree in the social work.
“I love what I’m doing. When I wake up in morning knowing that I’m going to be happy helping others, it gives me the energy to do what I have to do,” said Lowe. “I’m thrilled to be able to complete school. I’m amazed I did it. I’m so grateful I had a chance to fulfill a dream in my life.”
Balancing her job and classes required all the energy she could summon.
“It was hard to juggle both,” she said, particularly because Gaudenzia is evaluated three or four times a year. “It was like we were in crisis mode all the time, but thanks to the support I had from my family I managed to face the challenges at work and school,” she said.
Lowe raised three daughters—Gail, Robin, and Evelyn—mostly by herself, and all attended college. One is a lawyer; one is a nurse; and one works for an insurance company.
“I think it’s terrific, I’m very proud of her,” said Evelyn Lowe. “My mom is a person who is full of energy and full of faith. She is so happy to be doing what she wants to do, and doors were opened for her, and that gave her the strength to overcome some obstacles. She never said she couldn’t do it.”
“I felt like a parent: I would tell her to slow down; she was doing too much,” continued Evelyn. “She had her (internship) at Gaudenzia, travelling to New Jersey for her job at the Union Home for Children, and then to school. She has more energy than most people. I’ve never seen anybody like her.”
Rosemarie Lowe worked for the phone company for 26 years, but deep down, “I always wanted to be a social worker. My parents were always so giving and always helping people,” she said. “I called my mom a social worker because she was helping people who were hungry or homeless.”
She began studying for a degree in social work at another college, but had to return to work and found a job helping teenage girls and their children at Union Home.
From 1993 to 1999, she went with a missionary group related to her church to Nairobi, Kenya, and Uganda. “I was also a part-time missionary to Haiti for a period of 15 years,” said Lowe.
Eventually, Lowe completed an associate’s degree at Community College of Philadelphia.
And while driving by La Salle she thought, “Let me go in here and see if it’s possible for me to get accepted.” And she was, but she was apprehensive at first, sitting next to classmates who were 40 or more years younger than she was.
“Would I be accepted by them? Could I keep up with them?” Lowe wondered. “But I found a real camaraderie and friendship with the other students. I learned a lot from them, but, without bragging, I think I offered them a lot—many times I’d say something in class and they had questions about what I had said.”