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took in college (both in undergraduate and
graduate school), Albertson-Shea's
English course was a defining moment for
Galenius, since it "cemented" her decision
to help people by becoming a social
worker.
Helping people is what Galenius is all
about. From running a unique program
that aids abused women over age 50 on the
North Shore, to improving her
community, she enjoys serving others. In
addition to being MCC's 2012
Distinguished Alumna, Galenius was
named 2009 Social Worker of the Year by
the Massachusetts Chapter of the National
Association of Social Workers, and a 2011
Person of the Year in Saugus for her work
in the schools, her neighborhood, on the
Zoning Board and with recycling efforts.
"I've always wanted to help people," said
Galenius, recalling that her mother, Bea
Galenius of Saugus, was a drug and alcohol
counselor. "I grew up watching her interact
with clients. We lived in a sober apartment
house for a time in Melrose, and Mom
counseled these people. It made an
impression. Mom said I could `12-step'
people from the time I was 10-years-old,"
said Galenius, referring to the 12-stage
recovery process made famous by
Alcoholics Anonymous.
She wanted to go to college when she
graduated from Saugus High School in
1974, but there wasn't enough money or
support. Her high school counselor
discouraged her when she said she wanted
to go into human services, advising that
the pay was low.
"My family was on welfare for awhile when
I was young. It made an impression on me
I didn't want to be poor all my life," she
said.
Instead, she took business classes and went
to work after high school for a lighting
supply company. "I liked office work and
loved multi-tasking, but it wasn't
completely rewarding. I was always drawn
to helping people," she said.
Galenius married, had a daughter, and
took several years off work to raise her.
That's when she got involved with
neighborhood organizations. When her
daughter went off to school full time, she
said to herself, "OK Katie, now what?"
Still drawn to college, Galenius knew it
was "now or never" and began looking
around. She felt she had found the right
place when she arrived on MCC's Bedford
campus. "I'd checked several schools, but
walking through that door, I had the
feeling, `Oh, my gosh, this is where I
belong,' " said Galenius.
Being an older student, she was hesitant.
But everyone, from counselors and
financial aid staff, to faculty and math lab
tutors assured her "there's always a way."
"They went above and beyond to help me
Math Professor Phil Mahler with math,
and Kathy Gallagher in the Counseling
Office with the Myers-Briggs test to see
where my interests were. I also took a
freshman seminar with Evelyn Clements
and Frank Falcetta that helped acclimate
me to school and gave me confidence," she
said.
"They had you write about things you
knew, and were supportive and
encouraging. I don't know if professors
know how much positive comments mean,
but they do so much." The most
defining moments, however, came during
Albertson-Shea's class.
"We read Elie Wiesel's Night (the Nobel
Peace Prize winner's memoir about his
experiences as a teenager in Nazi
concentration camps). The professor
shared other terrible things happening
around the world," said Galenius, her eyes
filling up as she recalled the course. The
intense class was eye opening, she said.
"Professor Albertson-Shea made us care
about these things. At the end of class, she
gave us the buttons and told us if we were
silent to the injustices and horrors, we
were consenting to them," she said.
A Dean's List student during her years at
Middlesex, Galenius also was selected to
represent MCC on a three-week
International Fellowship to China in 1994,
another "life-changing experience." She
was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the
national honor society for two-year
colleges, in 1995.
After graduation in 1996, it was time to
move on. And, her MCC support system
was there, encouraging her to pursue her
bachelor's degree. Galenius was accepted
at every school she applied to: Boston
College, Boston University, Simmons
College, Lesley University. But she chose
Regis College, since it, too, "felt right."
At Regis, Galenius focused on social work,
stayed on the Dean's List and landed an
internship at GLSS. She began working
there full time after graduating with a
bachelor's degree in social work in 1998,
and took over the elder abused women's
program the next year. In 2004, she earned
a master's degree in social work from
Salem State University.
Her work today includes speaking on elder
abuse at senior centers and housing
projects, working with the Essex County
District Attorney's Office, and counseling
women over the age of 50 who are abused.
"The most satisfying thing for me is
opening victims' eyes to let them know
they are not alone, that it is not their fault,
and that there is help available," said
Galenius.
It's how she feels about MCC, too. Thanks
to the encouragement she received at
Middlesex, Galenius' life was changed, and
she is now doing what she feels she was
meant to do.
"Middlesex Community College
completely changed my life. It gave me the
foundation and hope that my life could be
different and that I could make a
difference in people's lives," said Galenius.
"It was meant to be."
Nancye Tuttle
Profiles
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This `He who is silent consents' pin, a gift from
MCC English Professor Sandra Albertson-Shea,
inspired Galenius to become a social worker.
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