Stan Chernicoff

Retired UW Professor Chooses a Second Act of Service

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Stan Chernicoff never gets bored.

Despite retiring with no plans for the future, the former UW professor has found a way to stay busy in his second act: he’s a self-confessed “serial volunteer.”

Chernicoff, who taught earth and space sciences at UW, has served on the board of a Post-Prison Education Program, lectured at a middle school in Federal Way, and taught U.S. citizenship classes to people who are preparing for the exam.

“I can’t just sit around and read or play golf,” Chernicoff said. “I need to have a certain number of what I call purpose-driven activities.” Some of these are easy, one-time activities. Others offer opportunities for irregular involvement. And some, like the citizenship class, require a regular commitment.

“I’ve found that if you put yourself out in the community and have some particular skill or expertise, people will knock on your door,” he said. “Ultimately, the question that volunteering has helped me answer is, ‘How do you feel good at the end of the day?’ There’s a dramatic need for those who can help young people, and the stakes are high.”

The UW Encore Initiative, hosted by the UW Retirement Association, helps retired staff and faculty explore ways to remain involved in the community — both on on and off campus. Encore knows that, like Chernicoff, a lot of retirees start off not knowing what they want to do. The UWRA provides resources and consultation to help them figure it out.

Ultimately, Chernicoff gravitated to the kinds of opportunities that he was passionate about. And what drives his passion? Unsurprisingly for someone who spent his professional life working with young people, he finds himself drawn to opportunities involving children and schools.

Some of his activities built upon the contacts he had as a faculty member. As the original faculty sponsor for the Dream Project, he met people working in Seattle schools with large populations of underserved students. Involvement in those schools has become a regular part of his life.

Despite the gratifications of teaching and working with students, Chernicoff has found his post-retirement volunteer activities to be “the most deeply meaningful things I’ve done in my life.

Watch him talk more about his second act in this video.

Explore what you’ll do for an encore as a retiree – or even before. Come to the UW Retiree Resource Fair from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at the HUB South Ballroom. And watch for e-registration opportunities for the upcoming workshops, ‘Non-financial Retirement Planning: Who will I be without my job?’ (October 21) and ‘Encore opportunities’ (November 4).

Questions? Contact Kevin Cavanah, UW Encore Initiative Career Services Specialist, at