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A Fulfilling Retirement Benefits From Staying Connected to the Young

Gina Malczewski says both groups benefit from maintaining close ties
Industry Matters Newsletter
Gina M. Malczewski, ACS Fellow
Gina M. Malczewski, ACS Fellow

Gina M. Malczewski, ACS Fellow

Gina received a BS in Chemistry from the University of Dayton, a PhD in Biological Chemistry from the University of Michigan, and did cancer-related postdoctoral research at Michigan Molecular Institute in Midland. She joined Dow Corning in 1984, where she evaluated the biocompatibility of silicones for medical use, developed Si-based substrate binders using biotechnology, characterized the performance of silicones in personal care, tested materials for antimicrobial use and drug delivery, and investigated applications of nano-structured Si materials. 

Gina received her secondary teaching certification from Saginaw Valley State University in 2007, which she has  used to develop teacher workshops for STEM educators, and conduct hands-on science programs. 

Active in the Midland Section of the American Chemical Society and at the National level, Gina became an ACS Fellow in 2019. She has made six HELPS International trips to rural Guatemala, helping to install stoves and water filters, and providing science training to teachers there. Gina and her husband volunteer for the local Red Cross. She is very proud of her family, including her three sons.

Did you choose retirement? Or was it chosen for you?

Although I planned to retire from Dow Corning late in 2013, I left as part of a downsizing earlier that year.  

How was the transition from the working world to retirement?

I had been actively volunteering with local ACS for five years at the time of my retirement, so I easily became even more involved, although I also did some substitute teaching for about a year and a half. The transition was not difficult; my husband had retired nine years before so I had the benefit of his experience to learn from. We were/are financially secure and I knew I had to stay busy to be happy, so I added to my volunteer portfolio.

Looking back, what do you wish you knew about retirement before you retired? 

I don’t think I was lacking any particular information at the time of my retirement; planning ahead and watching others can help tremendously. In my mind, one must continue to have “a mission” and I knew I had to find a way to contribute to the greater good.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Assuming they would listen, what’s your best advice for someone in their 20s/30s? 

As you work and provide for your family, look at the world around you and identify activities and interests you love or wish to learn more about.  Investigate as you have time, so when you become “available” you know where to start.

What do you enjoy most about being retired?

I can control my schedule—I just need to make sure to leave some “down time” to rejuvenate. Expectations seem to be low for retirees, and I think those of our age still have tremendous potential to change the world. Projects involving the young are good for both age groups.

What’s the biggest challenge you have confronted to this point in your retirement? 

There is sometimes reluctance from others to accept ideas from older folks or to see the value of the experience they may bring to a situation. Patience and role modeling help: when the generations work together, the results can be wonderful.

How do you stay connected to the chemistry enterprise as a retiree? 

Besides being very active in our local Section leadership, I also work on the scholarship and outreach committees.  I am an ACS Science Coach and participate in our local Great Lakes Bay STEM Alliance. The “reboot” of our Midland ACS Centennial history exhibit at Central Michigan University is also a current project of mine, and I am a member of the Committee on Community Activities at the National level.

What do you like most about where you are living in retirement? What’s one thing you wish you could change about where you live?

Midland, MI and surrounding communities are interested in science and our STEM collaborations are strong.  We have four seasons I can enjoy, and I am near to my three sons and extended family. I also have access to many wonderful activities in this area, including biking on a variety of trails and creative outlets like art and ceramics. 

What guidance do you have for people who are getting ready to retire?

Get/stay physically active to maintain your stamina; address your finances to mitigate money concerns. Determine what motivates you and how you can use that to address your “bucket list” or add new adventures. There are so many options, and hopefully you will soon have time to explore them! 

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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