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Carolyne Cohn, Committee Secretary. Member since 2006 

Carolyne's story
I was born in Box Hill, the eldest of five children. I grew up in Vermont which was still an area of apple orchards and dirt tracks and our entertainment revolved around activities we found to amuse ourselves. The house I grew up in is still in Canterbury Road though its surrounds have changed considerably. I attended Vermont State School and was in the first year intake of Vermont Secondary College. After Year 12, I completed a two-year Associate Diploma in Librarianship at RMIT. 

For 20 years I lived in Canberra and worked in the Commonwealth public service as a librarian. I did my BA part time at the Australian National University majoring in History. For 12 years I worked at the Parliamentary Library in Canberra. During this time I also had an enjoyable 6-month secondment to the Australian War Memorial Library.

The highlight of my last couple of years with the Parliamentary Library was working as Executive Officer for a project assisting the parliaments in the South West Pacific. It culminated in bringing representatives from eight countries to Canberra, and running a ten-day training course for them. During the project I visited the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Fiji. The photo shows me in Nauru’s desolate post-mining landscape.

After deciding it was time to leave the public service, I opened an Australian office for the US firm Faxon, selling serial subscriptions to libraries in Australia and New Zealand. As the business grew, I moved to Melbourne and opened a larger office that employed eight people before it was closed. I then opened an office for a Swets, a Dutch firm, in Melbourne. From there I was headhunted to join Blackwell’s in Sydney. After four years in Sydney I returned to Melbourne where I worked from home for the company for several years. All of these positions involved a lot of travel in Australia/New Zealand and I am fortunate to have been to all major cities in the region. Working for international companies also gave me the chance to make regular visits to their headquarters in the UK, Holland and the US.

Never having had children, I am delighted that I have been adopted by former neighbours who have no family in Australia, and now have a son, daughter and two beautiful granddaughters who I enjoy spending time with as often as possible. I also enjoy watching my football team play (and win sometimes) and try to get to at least one night of the Australian Open tennis.

Once I stopped travelling for work, I wanted to get involved in some community activities. I spent several years reading with the preps at the local school, and for the last couple of years I volunteered with Fitted For Work (a not-for-profit organisation assisting disadvantaged women preparing to enter the work force).  

I knew about U3A through my parents’ involvement in the organisation, and joined U3A Melbourne City in 2006 to learn chess – and I am still learning! I had just withdrawn from my previous volunteering job when I saw that our committee of management needed a Secretary. I applied and was interviewed, and am pleased to have been elected as I think it’s a great organisation.  I hope to be involved for many years to come.

Carolyne Cohn, January 2012