People ask me what sparked my interest in the field of aging. That
answer really depends on how far back I want to go and also how much time the
person has. The quickest response is that I began as a family caregiver after
my grand father had a stroke. While caring for him, and about to graduate from
my undergrad program, I was panic-stricken. I had no idea what I wanted to do
with my life. A friend of our family pointed me towards the USC dual degree
program in gerontology and social work. Poof! I
was in the field of aging.
the more in-depth response. I had originally begun my college career in
mechanical engineering. I quickly realized that it was not for me. I took a
class called "Introduction to Gerontology" which was part of the
sociology department and also met a professor who would later become my mentor.
That intro class was really just one of many seeds that had been planted
throughout my life pointing towards working with older adults.
back even further, my aunt was part of a church youth group when I was a kid.
One of their service projects was to visit people in nursing facilities. They
would sing for the residents, act out skits, and play bingo. My aunt lured me
in with donuts. The catch was while eating the donut, I had to help the
residents mark their cards during the bingo games. I remember the ladies
sitting in wheelchairs, patting me on the head and smiling. This seemed so
natural to me.
didn't realize was that this was the start of my career. It took every one of
those influences to put me where I am today:
- My aunt
- The youth group
- The church for
having the youth group
- The nursing
facility for allowing us to visit
- The ladies
- The donuts
- That intro to
- My sociology
- My grandfather
for being sick
- My grandmother
for showing me what it was like to struggle as a caregiver
- Our family
friend introducing me to social work and gerontology
- My professors at
- My internship
- Every single
family I have served since I began nearly 14 years ago.
To all of them, I owe a sincere thanks. Each in their own way has
propelled me down this path of serving older adults and their families.
in Aging Week (April 7-13, 2013) (www.careersinaging.com)
was created by the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and its educational
branch the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). Its purpose
is to bring awareness to the shortage of knowledgeable, well-trained personnel
to deal with the soon to be overwhelming needs of the aging population. 2012
marked the year that baby boomers began turning 65. Roughly 10,000 people will
cross that threshold every day for the next 18 years.
that I am able to do my part to introduce and propel others into this amazing
field. The opportunities are endless.
The need is urgent. 100 years from now, history books will tell stories of the
people who were the pioneers of this age.