Magazine Feature / People

Alumna continues to learn, teach and give

For Helen Garrett (BSBA general business ’47, MBA management ’57, PhD higher education/anthropology ’79), the saying, ‘It’s never too late to try something new,’ certainly rings true. In retirement, she’s become an avid golfer, painter, volunteer, conductor and globetrotter.

“All of us have different adventures,” Garrett says, adding that chance often plays a role in beginning new ones, even later in life. “Every time there was a fork in the road fate stepped in the way and pointed me in the right direction.”

Although Garrett says she always had a love of music growing up and played both piano and clarinet, she decided to study business instead. But business turned into teaching.

“I think the importance of a college education isn’t that you go into a defined career,” Garrett says. “You become so disciplined, intellectual and enlightened that you can adjust to anything that comes along.”

That kind of learning helped Garrett teach a myriad of subjects in middle and high school, college, and graduate seminars in the Philippines. She returned to music in 2006 when she won a silent auction bid to conduct the Lakewood Symphony Orchestra for an eight-minute piece.

“It was probably the highlight of my music career,” Garrett says, adding that friends came from all over the country to watch her.

And about 10 years ago, Garrett started a watercolor program at the community center in Lakewood, Colo., to teach disabled adults how to paint. First, though, she had to learn to draw and paint, and to this day, she enjoys being a student in watercolor classes.

“I’m not a professional by any means, but I am able to convey what I know to others,” Garrett says.

More important than learning about art, she adds, is the ability to give back to others. She’s also combined this philosophy with her love of music by creating the Dorthe Garrett Carrillo Award in the Lamont School of Music, a $1000 prize awarded in perpetuity to an outstanding graduating senior female classical voice major. Garrett created the award in memory of her sister, a former Lamont student.

“When you keep taking from life for over half a century, it’s about time you start giving things back,” Garrett says. “It would be a much better world if people reached a point where they gave back.”


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