Gone Missing--Ten Minutes
Am I the Luckiest Person?

My Emotional Roller Coaster

For a long time now, people have been asking me, “When are you planning to retire?” My reply was always, “I’ll know it when I know it.”

This week I knew it.   

My thirty-three year career in higher education administration at the Harvard Kennedy School has been second only to my family in making my life so blessed.  But I finally realized that if I stayed in my job until I was eighty, leaving it would be no less wrenching.  So why not go out on a high?

Especially since I am leaving without leaving.  On Wednesday, I will become a student at the very institution I love.  I am joining the Mid-Career Masters Program as the oldest entering student ever.  And if I complete the degree, as I intend to, I will walk across the stage and receive my diploma from the colleagues I handed out diplomas with for so many years.

It’s more than daunting to think of papers and exams, and I am scared.

But I’ll give it my best.


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Marc Leavitt

Congratulations. You're just getting off the train at an interesting-looking stop you always meant to investigate...someday. And don't be scared. You'll do just fine.

Laura Wheelock

Congratulations! You are truly inspirational.

jonathan Chapman

Congratulations Judy! I would love to buy you lunch in the square one of these days to celebrate your transition. I know how busy grad school can get so just let me know when you might squeeze me in between raucous happy hour mixers and late night study sessions.

I know everyone you work with will miss you, and you them, but I think you have the right attitude about moving on and I wish you great success as an ever so slightly more mature mid-career student. When I was at the Ed School we used to joke about who was bringing more to the table in terms of peer effects. I think it's pretty clear that the other members of your cohort are in line to get some of the highest-quality peer effects ever seen at the Kennedy School, so please pass on my congratulations to them as well :)

Margaret Rader

That's terrific! As a 70-something who took early retirement 20 years ago, I've enjoyed my retirement as an opportunity to do non-profit environmental work, but lately I've been thinking it might have been good to take another academic track. I'm sure you'll enjoy it and you will be an inspiration to your Mid-Career peers.



congratulations! I'm so happy for you!

Miranda Daniloff

You are an inspiration. Always were, always have been. So glad we had the chance to work together. What a fabulous, out of the box, unique, different, terrific choice for your next "career move". I love hearing stories about women who are forging a different road to make all the pieces of their lives fit, women who are not afraid of choosing a different road than what is normally prescribed.
Is this what Sheryl Sandberg means when she says "Lean In?" You are absolutely, leaning in!
Now here's a shameless plug for my blog: www.beyondlifeworkbalance.com where I hope to reframe conversations away from the worklife balance tightrope and to give a new perspective on building a life.


Wow! Congratz to you and you keep on being a super inspiration for us please! I've always known you were a force to be reckoned with, but you continue to surprise me endlessly!


I just read your news. I think that it is absolutely great
that you are going to school at seventy. I did it at 40 yrs.
and I have been happy with the decision. Now maybe I might
think about going back at 72 yr. Congratulations you are a
real inspiration. Joan

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