Academic Ceremonies - Commencement
Honorary Degree Recipient
Doctor of Laws
Carole Burack holds a degree in liberal arts from Brooklyn College and a master’s degree in social work from City College – earned while rearing three children. She has had a lifetime of rewarding, important work, but rarely has she collected a paycheck. Instead, she has helped innumerable people find respite from fear or make smoother transitions to a new culture, and she’s assured that many an arts organization remained afloat and efficient. And, for all that, she counts herself fortunate. “Not many people are able to do that,” she says, acknowledging that the need for volunteers is great.
Her first career was teaching in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, where Italian and Puerto Rican immigrants were newly arrived. “I taught all the grades in elementary school,” she says, “and I loved it.” And, although she claims, “I never practiced social work,” her list of volunteer posts would rival many a professional’s career – work with homeless children, with abused women, and with more recent immigrants, among them.
“I’ve done a lot of work with abused women” she says, in the White Plains, New York, court. “I’ve helped them get to court or to get an injunction” against an abusive spouse, Her latest “volunteer career” is working with students at the Westchester (New York) Community College. “They’re primarily foreign students who want to learn English; some even have degrees from their own countries,” she says. Burack talks with them, helping to translate our culture, which is so often bewildering to them. She also listens when they talk about their countries and cultures. She heard so much about India, she says, that she and her husband of 48 years, Dan Burack, decided to make an extended visit to the country this past winter.
Obviously not a quitter, Burack has been on her local library’s board for 25 years and on the board of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Company in the Berkshires for 15 years. She worked for many years at the Metropolitan Opera House, at first, leading backstage tours, and then coordinating its more than 400 volunteers. She thought it was wonderful: “I could always see the final dress rehearsals of all the operas and ballets.”
Burack is on the board of the Fleming Museum, and, with Dan, served on UVM’s
National Campaign Steering Committee, and currently on the National Development
Council. She served on the board of WAR (Women at Risk) for 10 years and, a
breast cancer survivor herself, continues to work for the organization.