Never Stop Learning
Photography by Christian Lee
It’s easy to see the radiant aura surrounding Dr. Sharon Webster as soon as you meet her. Despite a debilitating illness, which has left her wheelchair-bound for the past six years, her indomitable spirit and enthusiasm for life shines through. She is aglow as she expresses her enormous sense of gratitude for the tremendous opportunities that have come her way all of her life. Education is her passion. She was taught by her grandparents to read when she was three years old. This ability instilled deep within her an insatiable appetite for knowledge. “The more you know, the better it is, and the easier it is,” she said.
She holds three undergraduate degrees in political science, economics and psychology, a Ph.D. in International Political and Economic Relations, as well as post-doctoral education from several prestigious universities. Sharon’s resumé fills two pages with impressive degrees, job titles, honors and awards, professional activities and memberships, as well as board of director positions across the country. She is listed in Who’s Who in American Women, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the West, Who’s Who in Corporate Finance and the International Who’s Who of Intellectuals. She is also included in the Green Book, the social registry of Washington, D.C.
In the mid 1960s, Sharon was a visiting Doctoral Fellow at Princeton University, where women were a rarity. She was highly esteemed but denied a permanent position because of her gender. During the same era she held a position as a professor at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, where female students were expected to go and find a husband. Sharon encouraged them to enroll in graduate programs and establish careers for themselves, helping them obtain scholarships. She is a firm believer that education changes lives. Sharon has suffered in stride breaking the glass ceiling for women. Although she chooses not to be in the activism spotlight, she is a benevolent supporter. Her philosophy is Service Above Self, which is also the motto of Rotary International.
Ron Farsetti is Sharon’s charming and devoted husband. They are the light of each other’s lives. He is a very active member in Rotary. Sharon is right at his side to help with all of his service projects in whatever way she can. They don’t let her wheelchair get in the way of anything. One of their favorite activities is dancing. Ron can give her a great spin on the dance floor in her specialized wheelchair. They have both traveled the globe extensively. Sharon hopes one day soon to take Ron on an adventure to the Far East and travel along the Silk Road to share with him some of her favorite places. They are truly a dynamic duo!
Sharon and Ron are lifetime contributors to several organizations that make a difference in the quality of life for others, including St Jude’s Foundation, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, World Wildlife Fund, and the Sierra Club. One of their most loved charities is the Smith Scholarship Foundation, established by Sharon’s longtime friend Mignon Smith. This charity funds “First in Family” scholarships for young adults to go to college. Students are selected based on recommendations from their high schools. To be eligible, no one in their entire family has ever been to college. Not only are the expenses of tuition, room, board and books paid for, but also coaching support is provided through the entire college experience to foster their success.
When I asked Sharon what her deepest desire might be, she replied it is to set up a foundation so everyone can get an education. That will give her more pleasure than anything else. She and Ron are currently researching the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish this goal. Sharon’s philosophy for living is this: “Get as much education as you can stand. Never stop learning. Work as hard as you can. Make as much money as you can. Give it all back. Do something good with it.” If everyone adopted this way of living, what a wonderful world it could be!
From Politics to Paradise: Moved from Washington, D.C., five years ago to Hilton Head Island.
Parlez-vous Français? Yes! Also speaks German, Spanish and currently studying Mandarin Chinese.
For the Birds: Sharon and Ron have nine handsome cockatiels—they have their own office in the Farsetti home.
Next travel adventure: Dancing across America, taking in the sights of the USA!