When Shirley Rakestraw retired from Sacramento State after 24 years of service, she fully intended to live the leisurely life of a retiree. Having worked in the University’s Human Resources for 24 years, she was ready.
But things changed. “After about two years, I was caught up with all my household projects and had done some traveling,” Rakestraw says. “I found myself with some free time. I kept in touch with my friends in Human Resources, and when the Benefits office asked if I would assist with some special projects, I said yes. So I decided to come back as a retired annuitant.” She now works 32 hours a week coordinating special projects such as orientations, workshops and various fairs for the Benefits office.
Rakestraw is one of 43 retired annuitants at Sacramento State. “State workers who have retired from state service are eligible for the CalPERS retired annuitant program,” says Linda Robles, a coordinator in Human Resources. “If a retired employee would like to be placed on the annuitant list, they call our office. Annuitants can request a department to work in if they know the need is there, or a department will call our office to see who is available.” Retired annuitants can work up to 960 hours per fiscal year.
Older, retired adults in the workplace are not uncommon. “The word ‘retired’ should be retired,” says Cheryl Osborne, director of the University’s Gerontology Program. “Retirement is not what it used to be. We’re seeing a trend where individuals are retiring from their jobs and getting another job that matches up to their personal interests.”
Retirement options have traditionally been narrowed down to playing golf or playing bridge, Osborne says, and individuals who had no interest in either activity may have felt their post-career options were limited.
“People are living longer now and functioning well into their 80s,” Osborne says. “They don’t want to retire to the porch. Our University’s retired annuitants are an excellent example of that. They have time to give, plus they’ve got institutional history. That has great significance.”
Cindy Collins had 20 years of state service under her belt when she decided to retire earlier this year.
“I’d worked for the state for eight years, then came to Sacramento State in 1995, where I worked 12 years,” says Collins. She began working for the Sacramento State when her husband suffered a stroke. “After staying home, raising my children, my goal was to obtain my bachelor’s degree,” she says. “But after my husband’s stroke, I had to work, and getting my degree was not a priority at that point.”
Collins began work as a clerical assistant in the Department of Biology for a year and a half, and transferred to the dean’s office in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, where she worked until 2006. She then went on to University Enterprises when the desire to finish her degree struck.
“I had taken classes at Sacramento State over the years on a part-time basis, and I received an e-mail reminding me that it was time to file my petition to graduate,” Collins says. “I laughed at first, but after thinking about it, I realized it was time for me to finish my degree. It was now or never.”
Collins retired from the University in spring 2007 to pursue her degree as a full-time student, and is scheduled to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Religious Studies.
However, over the summer, Collins began to feel the pull of University employment, and began working for the office of University Advancement in the fall.
“I work 16 hours a week, so even with my course load it’s manageable,” Collins says. “I really missed the campus and the people that work here.” And she understands the value of retired annuitants. “Annuitants are good employees to have in times of transition or when offices need part-time help. Their institutional knowledge has great value.”