Today, there is a major focus on encouraging more women to study and work in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field. However, Brightview Danvers resident Pat Stanzel was blazing the trail as a woman in science as early as the 1940s.
From the beginning, Pat showed her commitment and ability to forge a path for herself. Since she was 16 years old, Pat lived on her own in the greater Cleveland area. Her parents were both deceased, so Pat moved into a boarding house and worked in a factory. After her school day, Pat worked from 3:15 – 9:00 pm and didn’t return to the boarding house for another hour. She even worked 8 hours on Saturdays.
All her hard work paid off when Pat received a scholarship to study education at The Ohio State University. She had always wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl. Pat minored in science, knowing the field was a profitable one. “I didn’t have my parents to support me, so I took as much science and math as I could, so I could earn a living,” she said.
Pat worked in a variety of research jobs as she finished her education courses. She first worked for DuPont during World War II, improving the glass used in B17 planes. Pat also worked with the chemical DDT. Although we know now how harmful DDT is as a carcinogenic pesticide, it was instrumental in killing vermin and combatting insect-borne diseases among soldiers during the war.
When Pat first joined DuPont, she was initially paid at a man’s rate. “I was there about a month, and my boss asked the engineers if they would leave,” Pat said. “He told me he made a mistake with my salary and had to lower it.” She pushed back, and her boss admitted that everyone was very pleased with her work. He told her he would do everything he could to bring her salary back up, and eventually, Pat was making her original salary once again.
After the war, Pat worked on synthetic rubber for B.F. Goodrich before working at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. There, she researched jet engines, specifically the turbine’s bucket blades. These blades were breaking in flight under stress, and it was part of Pat’s work to understand why that was happening.
Finally, after 16 years of working in research labs and finishing her education courses, Pat achieved her teaching dream. She taught fifth and sixth grade, and due to her extensive science background, she eventually taught in her school’s gifted education program, Major Work.
“I like teaching elementary science because I can relate it to things that are practical,” Pat said. She would use a string and ball to demonstrate gravity and centrifugal force. Another popular activity with her students was replicating the wind over Lake Erie with an ice block in a ceramic bowl.
It is evident that Pat’s passion for teaching made a profound impact on her students; she still hears from some of her students. Throughout her whole life, Pat was a pioneering, hard-working woman who wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of accomplishing her dreams.
Brightview Senior Living builds, owns, and operates award-winning vibrant senior living communities in eight states along the East Coast: Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. We offer senior Independent Living, Assisted Living, Enhanced Care, and Wellspring Village®, a specialized neighborhood for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Schedule a personal visit to experience our communities firsthand.