Gerontology PhD Students Switch Roles as OLLI Scholars Leading Classes

OLLI Scholar Cindy Bui with student Rhonda Holyoke.

OLLI Scholar Cindy Bui with student Rhonda Holyoke.

By Caitlin Connelly

Think of it as academic role reversal.

In these classes, students become the teachers. The classes are offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston, the state’s largest lifelong learning program for older adults. The instructors are PhD students studying gerontology at UMass Boston, known in these particular classrooms as OLLI Scholars.

Grad students have served as OLLI teachers for more than five years. This semester, UMass Boston Gerontology PhD students Emily Lim and Cindy Bui are the instructors of Popular Media, Apps and Communication, a course providing hands-on, interactive instruction on everything from hashtags to key phrases. Continue reading

A Big Year for UMass Boston Gerontology

It’s been a year for the record books.

The Gerontology Institute Blog covered every major department and institute event of 2017. But few of those posts could match the impact of coverage of students and their accomplishments filed during commencement season.

Start with those UMass Boston gerontology students who were awarded PhD degrees this year – as a group of eight, the largest in department history. One of the students, Mai See Yang, was selected as the speaker for the year’s graduate commencement ceremony. Read about her extraordinary story and then take a look at her commencement address. Continue reading

Meet Jim Hermelbracht, New Director of OLLI at UMass Boston

Jim Hermelbracht is the new director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston. Recently, Hermelbracht talked about why he was drawn to the job and explained his initial priorities at OLLI. He also discussed his roots in the Midwest and a career in higher education. The following is an edited version of that conversation.

 

 

What attracted you to the position of director of OLLI at UMass Boston?

I’ve been in higher education for 20 years now. I like what higher education is about in terms of providing opportunities for all students to really explore their interests and gain valuable experiences in their personal and professional development. So when I looked at OLLI and found it served a different student population than what I am used to working with — ages 18 to 22 — it intrigued me. The whole concept of lifelong learning is something I think we try to instill in undergraduate students, that learning never ends. I found the opportunity to help students, in this case older students, continue that exploration to be very appealing. It’s going to be a new and different challenge. Continue reading

Jim Hermelbracht Named New Director of OLLI at UMass Boston

Jim Hermelbracht, a highly regarded administrator with two decades of experience in higher education management, has been selected as the new director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston.

Hermelbracht, who most recently served as director of student activities at Stonehill College, will leave that position later this month to take over leadership of OLLI at UMass Boston, the state’s largest lifelong learning program. He was selected by a six-person search committee that included four OLLI members. Continue reading

UMass OLLI Director Wichian Rojanawon on a Career in Lifelong Learning

Wichian Rojanawon launched a new lifelong learning program at the University of Massachusetts Boston with modest resources in 1999. Now the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UMass Boston is the largest among many lifelong learning programs in the state. But the spring semester underway will be his last as director of the program that is part of the Gerontology Institute at the McCormack Graduate School. Wichian, who plans to retire as director this summer, recently talked with the Gerontology Institute Blog about his lifelong learning experience at UMass. This is an edited version of the conversation.

How did the lifelong learning program first get off the ground at UMass?

At the time it was called LETS, Life Enrichment Through Studies. I started the program with two volunteers and $3,000 — a small grant from the university endowment fund. This was the idea of Frank Caro, the former director of the Gerontology Institute. He asked me to explore what was going on in the lifelong learning area. A lot of programs had been launched in the 1980s and ‘90s and there were about 300 of them by 1999. So a lot of other universities got started ahead of us. Continue reading