The extraordinary giving and extraordinary life of Carolyn Bogott

Published 6:13 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Editor’s Note: Five years ago, AAUW discussed the idea of profiling Austin women to share their contributions and accomplishments. When no one else volunteered, Carolyn Bogott stepped up to say she’d be willing to do it.  We’ve all enjoyed learning more about some of Austin’s notable women through her exceptional columns and now we decided it is time to profile this truly exceptional woman and friend.  This column is submitted by Belita Schindler, Peggy Benzkofer and Gail Dennison.

Carolyn Bogott

While she may come across as mild mannered, there is nothing about this woman that is ordinary. Carolyn Bogott is modest, humble, and wildly unusual and her great and many achievements have impacted and improved literally thousands of lives through her career as a leader in education and a friend to the community.

Raised by Quaker parents, Carolyn grew up in Indiana to a professor/pastor father and a teacher mother who both taught her to live one’s faith through doing. When she was 12, her family’s year in Ramallah, Palestine, serving at a Quaker school, was interrupted for three months due to political unrest. Carolyn and her mother were evacuated to the safer haven of Beirut, Lebanon. During those weeks, she learned from the quiet strength of her mother as they lived in this challenging situation. On their return to Ramallah, Carolyn watched her father negotiate the political and educational difficulties of running a school in an unfamiliar place and an uneasy time.   Continuing her family’s culture of serving others, later, as a teenager, she went on “work camps” — or mission trips — with church youth groups to Oklahoma and to Cuba

She earned a degree in education, became a teacher in northern California, and married. In 1980, she and her physician husband, Fred, and their two sons, moved to Austin when Fred joined the Austin Medical Center.  They began a life here of deeply and positively impacting the community. 

Her path as an education influencer continued through the many positions she has held.  In addition to raising her family, she taught and led the Congregational Preschool for 28 years. At the urging of members of the Academic Booster Club and AAUW, Carolyn ran for Austin School Board and served for 13 years. Other volunteer contributions include tutoring for Adult Basic Education for 10 years and mentoring through Mower County Mentoring Program for 15 years. She was in the leadership of the Science Fair Mentoring Program for six years, as well, working with the student “scientists.” Volunteer hours were also given by her at Banfield School until the pandemic curtailed that. For over 20 years she helped international scientists from the Hormel Institute acclimate to living in Austin. She has had many roles in AAUW, including establishing a Women’s History Month celebration at Austin High School with a Women’s History contest and an all-school assembly, featuring outstanding women speakers to help students understand about women’s impact on society.

It is not in Carolyn’s DNA to think others should be responsible for what she sees could be done to make the world a better place. She has devoted herself to “be the change you want to see in the world.” She has supported preschoolers and their families at a time in their development when their lives could be set on a better course through education. She has inspired interest in science to students who may not have that support from hard working parents. She has taught English and shared American culture with international newcomers to Austin. When Carolyn sees a way to expand thinking — from small children to adults — she has always been first to raise her hand, to be willing to help and to use all her resources to become part of the solution.

Known for her capacity and humility, she is educator, traveler, advocate, wonderful baker, and friend — and a woman all of Austin can be truly thankful for.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  sue.grove@riverland.edu  or Carolyn Bogott  csbogott@charter.net. The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.