Friday, February 26, 2016

Member in the Spotlight: Heather Learnard

By: Laurie Lynch, SHARE staff organizer

"Hmmm, if I could go back to any moment in time, when would I go?" Heather wonders out loud, in response to my question. "I want to say I would go back to the moment, right before I broke both of my ankles doing gymnastics, so I could land the flip right and not break my ankles. However, I learned a lot from that experience and how it feels to be in a wheelchair for quite some time while I was healing. So, I guess I'd have to say my high school trip to Europe during junior year!"

Heather's face lit up and her eyes brightened with excitement as she started reliving the trip in her mind. I asked her what she enjoyed most about the 12 day trip She said, "Everything!" She explained the experience to me as one of those almost-perfect moments in time that could never be repeated. It was a great time and place to be, with great people all experiencing so many new and exciting things for the first time together.

Heather is definitely a glass half-full kind of person. She is a hard worker, who worked while in high school and worked all through college. She is also the sort of person who can make someone feel warm and comfortable right away, as she did for me. She is the type of person who sees a stray cat looking cold and hungry in a parking lot and just cannot leave it behind. In high school, Heather noticed a skinny cat walking around her work parking lot for several days, until one cold October afternoon she came up to her and she was able to pick her up. Heather took the cat home to get warm, fed her, cleaned her up and brought her to the vet. She was nervous that the cat may actually have an owner, but the vet said she was very malnourished, and if she had an owner at some point, they had stopped taking care of her a long time ago. Six years later and she is still Heather's baby.

Heather has already accomplished so much in her twenty-two years: graduating from Lunenburg High School, and obtaining her bachelor's degree from Bridgewater State University in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical and Molecular Science, all-the-while working part-time jobs on the side. After all of her hard work, Heather is finally doing what she loves, science, working in the Cardiovascular Lab in the Sherman Building. She feels very lucky to have landed in such a wonderful lab with two amazing bosses who Heather says have not only been incredible mentors already, but have also been very friendly and patient with her. Although she has only been at UMass for a couple of months, she is already looking into Master’s Degree programs to do part-time in the evenings while she continues working in her new position.

25 Random Fun Facts about Heather Learnard:
  • Favorite color – Purple
  • Favorite season – Summer (She is a Summer baby!)
  • Beach or woods – Beach
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Vanilla
  • Dream vacation – Anywhere with sun, sand, and pina coladas 
  • Favorite style of music – Mostly country, but likes a bit of everything
  • Favorite food – Chicken piccata
  • Any siblings – 3 brothers
  • If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – My dad’s pancakes, with real maple syrup, bacon, strawberries and pineapples
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – A book, sunscreen, water purifier, solar powered radio and a fishing pole
  • Do you blow dry your hair? or just let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Air dry
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – Only wears shoes to the gym and does untie them
  • Favorite book – Stephanie Plum series, by Janet Evanovich
  • Any pets – 1 family cat and 1 cat she rescued
  • Favorite hobbies – Baking and being outdoors in nature
  • Last thing you bought (other than food) – Long winter coat
  • Favorite day of the week – Friday
  • T.V. show you secretly enjoy – Grey’s Anatomy
  • Favorite Potato Chips flavor – Salt and Vinegar
  • Do you play a musical instrument – No
  • What's your worst pet peeve – Spitting (She answered this question really fast!)
  • Do you have dream car – A new, white, Range Rover Sport
  • Who named you and why – Her mom and dad. They decided to each make a list of the top 10 names they liked, when they compared their lists, Heather was the only name they had both written.
  • What languages do you speak – Took Spanish for 5 years but only retained a little
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – “Believe”

Monday, February 22, 2016

Update on Supreme Court Case

A few weeks ago we wrote about a case at the Supreme Court that might have a big impact on SHARE at UMMS: Friedrichs v. The California Teachers Association. 
As you may have heard, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly. Justice Scalia was considered by experts to be the swing vote in the Friedrichs case. It is probable that his death will delay a decision on Friedrichs v. CTA and other close cases before the Court this session. 
What will happen next?
The two most likely scenarios are:
1.     The Court could vote 4-4 on the case. Then the ruling from the lower court, in favor of the union, would stand. It would be as if the case had never gone to the Supreme Court. Someone else would likely bring a similar case to the Supreme Court in the future, but it would take a while for a new case to work its way up through the lower courts.
2.     The Court could decide that the case should be re-argued once a new Justice is appointed. This could also take a while. President Obama has said that he will nominate someone to succeed Justice Scalia. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate will block any Obama nominee. So it is unclear whether there will be a ninth Supreme Court Justice before the next President is in office. ​
What does this mean for SHARE members?
Whatever happens, it is likely that the Friedrichs case, or one like it, will eventually be heard by the Supreme Court, but probably not this session. 
We will continue to talk together about what a negative decision would mean for us, what would happen if our union were either gone or weaker, and what we collectively want to do about it. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tidbit Time: Week of February 8, 2016

Happy Heart Month! As in, happy Valentine’s. And, more importantly, Heart Health Awareness Month. Here’s our latest roundup of tidbits from our community and the worlds of academia, healthcare, and unions . . .


One former SHARE member, Nancy Whalen, the President of Healing Heart Hospitality House, has just let us know about an upcoming dinner with real heart. And you’re invited! “Our mission is to help families of patients traveling more than 30 miles to be with their loved ones hospitalized in the Worcester area by providing a suite of services that offers emotional and spiritual support and comfort,” Nancy writes. “Just recently a very generous person has offered to buy us a house. After 10 years of working towards this goal, we are excited beyond words. Pub 99 is sponsoring our fundraiser by donating 15% of food purchased on Tuesday, February 9th when anyone presents the voucher from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.”

Healing Heart Voucher.jpg
You can print your own voucher by right-clicking the above image. Save it to your computer, and you can print it from there.


Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.  Fortunately, we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. On Friday, February 5th, many SHARE members participated in National Wear Red Day, wearing red and working to raise research funds and awareness about women's heart health. 
Go Red Raffle in the University Cafeteria

The American Heart Association provides this guide to Well-Woman Visits so that you can schedule, prepare for, and understand the kinds of physician visits that will help you protect your own heart health, and encourage other women to do the same.


The number of union members in the US held steady from 2014 to 2015, according to the annual Department of Labor report on the subject.  Studies show that increased union membership strengthens the middle class.


Did you know that the blue whale has the largest heart, weighing in at 1,500 pounds? Or that your heart will beat about 100,000 times today? That will add up to over a million barrels of blood during an average lifetime.


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Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and that things are off to a very good start for you this week. See you here next time . . .