The very thought of returning to school at age 50 terrified me.

But I had always considered not having a master’s degree to be unfinished business. So, after serious consideration I methodically developed a plan and moved forward.

The program I was interested in was a Master’s of Science degree in Creativity and Innovation at SUNY Buffalo State. I contacted several people who were graduates of the program to get an overview of what was involved. After meeting with these graduate students and obtaining three letters of recommendation, I was notified by the college that I was accepted and was eligible to enroll in the upcoming semester.

I naively thought I would be able to register manually, but it had to be done via computer. Thankfully, a young student sensed my distress and assisted me.

Then came the makeover from a businesswoman with suits and a briefcase to casual clothes to wear on campus. I solved this by ordering from Lands’ End.

I started classes in the spring semester and I was enthralled with everything I was learning. There were other nontraditional students in my classes, which was a bonus and led to the formation of study groups and to helping each other navigate our way.

In order to complete the requirements of this program, we had to write a thesis or project. Since I was always interested in the relationship between creativity and humor, I presented an outline to my adviser. We concurred that this was a topic worth pursuing. I went forward with my research and took a “serious look at humor” and its relationship to creativity.

As I moved along, I decided that I would like to share my knowledge of humor with others. Thus I set up a goal to become a professional speaker on humor.

Since I had never addressed audiences before, I was advised to attend Toastmasters meetings, so that I could be at ease speaking to groups. While attending these meetings, I met a well-seasoned Toastmaster/Master who took me under his wing. He became my speaking coach and I immediately signed up to take lessons from him on a weekly basis. At the conclusion of my sessions with him, he said I would be fine speaking to groups because I knew my subject matter well.

I graduated in May 1992 and my new career as a speaker on humor began almost immediately. To help me celebrate graduation, my children Jacqueline and Charles hosted a graduation party for me at a comedy club.

Becoming a speaker on humor at age 56 was one of the most exciting and satisfying parts of my life. From 1992 to the present, I have been most fortunate to be invited to speak at many events and to diverse audiences. I developed the name Humour Happens Associates (HHA) for my new enterprise and my tag line is: Humor is the glue that bonds.


The things that change our lives often come when we are not looking for them. It could be a book we read; it could be a sermon we heard, or it could be the confidence expressed in us by a parent, teacher, or mentor. We would like to hear from Western New York women about the defining influences on their lives for Women’s Voices. Send your essay (up to 700 words) to and include your name, email and daytime phone number. Submissions must be by email and cannot be promotional in nature or anonymous.