Senior Laura Bock with her master's degree from Univ of Mass at Amherst


   In 1971, while pursuing a master’s degree in history from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Laura Bock suddenly went blind. At that point, she had completed nearly all the requirements for her degree but software for blind students was nonexistent and Bock’s dream to become a history professor seemed unattainable.

   More than 50 years later, Bock, a resident of The Redwoods senior living community for the past 10 years, became motivated by the stories of women historians who took unconventional paths to obtain advanced degrees.

   Bock contacted the University of Massachusetts in 2022 with a proposal requesting that she be awarded her master’s based on her classwork, five decades of work, classes, presentations, preserving archival collections and keeping her “hand in history.”

   This past March — Women’s History Month — she was notified that her proposal for her master’s degree was approved. At the age of 77, Bock is officially a historian and recently received her diploma. 

   “I am convinced that I would not have had the courage to reach back five decades and start a discussion about completing my master’s degree if I had not lived at The Redwoods,” Bock said. 

   Bock had the encouragement of a community that helped her enhance her public speaking skills and develop newfound confidence. She is working on her memoir.

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