Ph.D. in Aging Studies, University of South Florida (2008)
M.A. in Gerontology, University of South Florida (1998)
B.A. in Psychology, Auburn University (1996)
I discovered a natural affinity for older adults in my childhood, as a violinist in a Suzuki violin ensemble in elementary school in Orlando, FL. The group frequently performed at retirement communities and long-term care facilities and I really enjoyed these early opportunities to interact with older people. I did not discover the field of Gerontology, however, until I was nearly done with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. At that time, I decided to pursue a career in Gerontology and enrolled in a Master's program at the University of South Florida in Tampa. During this time, I also worked as an activities director in an assisted living facility. I learned so much during these two years and had the opportunity to put what I was learning into practice immediately, an experience that would later inform my teaching style and commitment to experiential learning. I went on to hold several positions in the Aging Network - Information & Referral Specialist with the West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging; Senior Companion Program Coordinator and Foster Grandparent Program Director with Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay - before returning to graduate school for an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Aging Studies. My primary motivations for pursuing a Ph.D. in Aging Studies were to (1) learn more about aging, (2) further refine the expertise and gain the credentials necessary to teach at the college level, and (3) develop research skills that I could employ in the service of older adults and their family caregivers.
I have been on the faculty in the Gerontology Institute at Ithaca College since 2008. I teach Aging Studies majors (B.A. and B.S. students), minors, and students who are taking one or more courses in aging to complement their studies in other fields. I find it incredibly gratifying to accompany students in their exploration of issues, concepts, and theories that will most assuredly impact their lives in many ways - personally, professionally, and otherwise. Every course I teach has an experiential learning component of some kind. By way of example, students in my courses have:
- engaged in the Ages & Stages in Our Community intergenerational case study project with community elders and second graders at South Hill Elementary.
- explored the life course perspective through small group discussions with residents of Longview (a retirement community across the street from Ithaca College). You can read more about the Longview/IC Partnership here: www.ithaca.edu/gerontology/longview/.
- performed musical plays (Titus Towers, The Fountain of Youth, The Invisible Singing Martians, Ben & Jeff in Ithaca, Clementine) together with resident playwright and actors from Titus Towers (an independent living community for disabled and older adults in downtown Ithaca).
- conducted and presented research in partnership with Hospicare & Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County
- designed, conducted, and presented research on the topic of civic engagement among Kendal at Ithaca residents, at the request of the Kendal at Ithaca Residents' Association President.