A Changed Person

Joe Powers



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By my senior year, I began to hit my stride. I took courses with Feroz Ahmed and Paul Faler, and I did an independent study with Esther Kingston-Mann on social ideology and philosophy.

I participated in discussions, demonstrations, and rallies. I read books on politics and philosophy. I was particularly taken with the works of Marx, Lenin, Engels, Kropotkin and William Morris among others. I was also a rabid reader of the historians E. J. Hobsbawm, E.P. Thompson, and Christopher Hill among others. I wanted to participate in meaningful social change and felt sure that I would during my lifetime. This was certainly the “springtime of my life." I loved my professors; I was becoming a good student; and I was yearning to go on to graduate school to study more. Clearly, work had defined who I was, but it was through education and study that I was able to refine my world view into something meaningful and clear. Ideas and actions were coming together, forming a useful tool for the present, extending into the future.

I came out of UMass Boston a changed person. My entire future opened up before me with possibilities I never thought existed.

When I came back to Boston from Baltimore, I worked construction. Danny Clifford, John’s brother, helped me get into the Carpenters’ Union. After I had been in the union for nine years, I ran for positions on the union E-Board, and, to my surprise, won. I worked as a steward for five years, and then I was hired as a Business Agent, a job that I had desperately wanted for years, and a job that I loved for years. After a 16-and-a-half year stint as Business Agent, during which I held a number of union positions, including President of Local 40, delegate, NERCC E-Board member and Chairman of the Boston Carpenters apprenticeship.

I would never have had the satisfying career I had if I had not attended UMass Boston where I met many interesting and learned professors and students who helped me on my way. For better or worse, I am a creation of my environment. I would like to think that it’s mostly for the better.