Aging Studies Program Graduates

Graduate School - Aging Studies Major

Sarah Harty, 14'

Where do you currently work and what are your primary job functions?
Sarah Harty is currently living in St. Louis, Missouri while she attends graduate school at Washington University for her Masters in Social Work. She has a research fellowship at Washington University with the Harvey A. Friedman Center of Aging where writes grants, conducts research, and plans events. She said she works with a great team of people and it’s been a good experience.

She is currently completing her concentration practicum at the VA medical center where she works with homeless veterans. She also serves on a board called the Gateway Alliance for Compassionate Care at the End of Life which educates the community about end of life issues. The board consists of many nurses, physicians, social workers, and lawyers who are all working in the end of life care realm.  

Briefly describe the professional path you took after graduating from Ithaca College.
Her major was aging studies and her minor was in creative writing. After she graduated she took a year off from school and worked at Hospicare in Ithaca where she was the bereavement volunteer coordinator. She really loved working with Hospice which is why she is now going to grad school for Social Work.

The Master's program at Washington University is two years and she is graduating in May 2017. After graduating from Washington University she knows she wants to do medical social work and ideally work in end of life and palliative care.

What was your best experience with the Gerontology Institute/Aging Studies?
She responded saying, “Definitely all of the service learning that we did”. That’s something she has really carried with her since graduating. She recalls that everything she learned from the service learning experiences is really so applicable to everything she does today. It really provided a foundation for her as a clinical social worker in training. While she was here she did one project at Clare Bridge and then an internship with Adult Protective Services, she also did creative writing groups in the community at different facilities one with the Tompkins Mental Health Association and the other with McGraw House.

Why should students consider a major or minor in gerontology?
She believes aging is so applicable to every single person in the U.S. Right now she is working on developing a curriculum to help integrate aging material within undergraduate courses. She thinks it’s really important to recognize the importance aging has on every individual. Especially as a young professional she thinks it will put you at the top of the pile for jobs and job security.

What has been your favorite experience working in the field of gerontology?
Her favorite experience has been hearing the stories of older adults. In all of the settings she has been, being able to sit with an older adult and listen to them has been her favorite experiences. She finds it to be such a privilege to sit with an older adult and hear about their lives and personal experiences from their perspective.

What is one piece of advice you would offer current gerontology majors/minors?
She would say that everything students are currently learning, they will use forever. She advises students to retain as much knowledge as possible because it will really be applicable in the real world. Also, she suggests keeping your textbooks and your readings because she still refers back to them at times. She thinks that this is a really unique program and students should take advantage of that.

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