Most people think of retirement as that time in life when one has reached a suitable age or level of financial stability to quit working at a job, opting instead to spend time doing what one enjoys. But what if those things are the same things? Is it still retirement?
Let’s ask Jenny Sercu, who recently left her position as NVC Trips and Tours Coordinator, after retiring in 2010. That is not a typo.
Although her affiliation with NVC started in 1968, as a noncredit instructor, she actually worked at the college for 33 years, starting in 1977 as a part-time teacher, over the years teaching courses such as art, basic art, painting, painting workshop, t-shirt painting, arts/crafts, nature crafts, noncredit substitute, painting workshop for older adults, basic art, new way to work, holiday food/world and more.
“I’m enthusiastic about learning,” she says. “Education has been my thing in life.”
In 1982, she became an assistant in the Community Education office, helping the Dean in various jobs and moving to full-time in 1991. Five years later, she became assistant to the Dean of Upper Valley Campus and Community Education, a position she held until 2010.
“One of my primary jobs was to find instructors and place them in retirement and nursing homes, as well as the Veterans Home [in Yountville] to work with seniors,” Sercu says. “The goal was to keep the seniors active, alert, and apprised of current events. I was also asked to head ‘Adventure College,’ a program that allowed local residents to learn about other places in the world by traveling with educators. I love travel, and I love what you learn from travel.”
That is why, after officially retiring from her assistant to the dean position in 2010, Sercu immediately signed up to continue as trips & tours coordinator as a “temporary” worker, researching destinations, coordinating advertising, handling registrations and travel documents, arranging group orientations prior to the journeys, and personally bidding “bon voyage” and “welcome home” to all the travelers.
Of course, she was also able to join on the trips occasionally, as well.
“One particularly memorable trip several years ago took Napa residents to the historic beaches of Normandy, France,” she remembers. “We saw the museums, the bunkers, the cannons and the weapons. We had guides who told us where the enemy was and it was a stunning experience, in that you realized what these people went through. Everywhere we went, people loved us – they still appreciate what the Americans, British and Canadians did for them.
“The Galapagos was the trip I felt most amazed with. It was like looking back on creation. We had read some of Darwin’s work, but to see these animals who had absolutely no fear of humans — they had the right of way, definitely – was one of the most amazing experiences in one of the most amazing places in the world,” Sercu enthused.
As much as she gained from travel and her work at NVC, Sercu gave back, as well.
“I served as a director on the Napa Valley College Foundation for 14 years,” she says. “My claim to fame from my service on the foundation was to become ‘Bingo Queen,’ along with Wanda Lamb. We put on bingo games every Monday night, raising more than $40,000 for the Foundation!”
So after nearly 44 years with the College, Sercu says she considers it time well spent.
“I have loved working for Napa College. In a way the college has raised me,” she says. “After graduating from college, this has been my life-long job. Looking back, it’s been a really great adventure with many facets.”
Happy travels, Jenny!