by Helen Gebhardt
Stanford has been an extremely important part of my life, from the many friendships I made to volunteer and work relationships later on. Obtaining my first job epitomizes its importance. Graduating in 1948, I applied for a job as secretary at a large local company. Back then, women were somewhat limited in their options. The job I was offered–and turned down–was as a stenographer in their accounting department. I explained that I believed my Stanford education qualified me for something better. The next day I was offered, and accepted, the job as secretary to a top executive.
While raising my family in Salt Lake City, I engaged in volunteer activities. Returning to Boise, just as my children were ready for college, led me to return to the “World of Work.” I, again, believe my Stanford credentials and volunteer experiences were vital to the job hunt. My two sons became professionals (many years of college) and I was happy to contribute to their successes!
My roles in these later working years were as Public Relations Officer for the Boise Schools, and then a move to the State Department of Education in the same capacity. There I was able to chair the Teacher in Space project for our State (every state participated). We had two of the top ten finalists, with Barbara Morgan (another Stanford graduate), the back-up to Christa MacAuliffe, who ultimately traveled into space.