Meet an Aging Studies Minor
An Interview with Sarah Furie, ’13
Sarah Furie is a senior Television and Radio Production major in the Park School of Communications, with a minor in Aging Studies. She was interviewed here by Aging Studies major Shelby Smith, ’13.
Q: What made you decide to become an Aging Studies minor?
Sarah: I took a seminar as a freshman, called Exploring Creativity with Professor Erickson. I really liked her style of teaching and the class dynamics so I decided to take more classes with her. During my Introduction to Aging Studies class, I became more interested in the subject of aging and I continued to take even more classes.
Q: What was your best experience with the Gerontology Institute?
Sarah: My best experience was being introduced to Longview and its residents. Before starting college I worked with older adults, mostly my relatives, but never with anyone in the community. You get to know residents during the 4 years you’re in school and develop a rapport with them. There have been times when I see people at Longview and they say “Hi Sarah!” That’s when you know you’ve made an impact, which is one of the best things about being a part of the Gerontology Institute.
Q: What has been your experience with the professors in the Aging Studies department?
Sarah: Every class taught by the Aging Studies professors has been a great experience. They all have been there for me when I had questions, and were always available in class, after class, and also through email. I think they make the material fun and engaging compared with many other programs on campus. It’s a lot of group projects and presentations, which makes learning the material more fun.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about being an Aging Studies minor?
Sarah: I think explaining what I do in the minor. Most people don’t understand what the curriculum would be, and a lot of people don’t understand why you’d want to study aging, so I have to educate them a little bit!
Q: Why should other students consider a major or minor in Gerontology?
Sarah: I think the Aging Studies major and minor are different from other programs in the fact that Aging Studies looks at the whole lifespan. Other programs or classes are helpful to influence your development, but Aging Studies is one of the best to help you grow as a person and in life. The program opens your eyes to what life is, what it can be, and makes you appreciate life more. The program is especially good for people who have never worked with older adults before and who may have biases towards that age group.
Q: What was your best experience working with older adults?
Sarah: My best experience was helping a man who is legally blind work on the computer. It was a lot of fun for me because of how great a person he was. I knew I was helping him, which made me feel good about what I was doing. I became so close to him and his wife that I ended up visiting them throughout the next couple of years. I enjoyed spending time with them, even just to tell them new things going on in my life and hearing about new things in theirs. They became my friends- it’s wasn’t just a volunteer position. They treated me like their grandchild and I treated them like my grandparents.
Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about working with older adults?
Sarah: The most rewarding thing for me is that everyone involved wins. They [older adults] have young people in their lives, and I’m getting the chance to meet new people and friends while working with people of different ages. We’re meeting each others’ needs in that way. I’m impacting someone and helping society in a sense.
Q: How has being an Aging Studies minor affected you as a person?
Sarah: I definitely believe being an Aging Studies minor has opened me up to the stereotypes projected in the media today, which are even more common than I thought. It’s also alerted me to how we treat our elders in our society and how I as an individual treat older adults. We’ve learned that certain cultures celebrate aging, and the oldest members of the society are praised and worshiped. It’s not like that here. Even though it can be challenging at times to work with older adults, we should take the time to stop and think about what’s going on with them internally. Older adults should be revered instead of pushed aside. Being an Aging Studies minor has also opened my eyes to the fact that just because a person has an impairment does not mean they’ve changed as a person or that they can’t keep up.
Q: What are your future aspirations after college?
Sarah: I plan to move to L.A. to become a professional editor for TV or film. However, it’s hard to get a job in that field. One thing my mom always says is that you can incorporate your minor and major. There are so many [announcements] for products for older adults, and healthcare organizations that need editors to work on commercials and other video projects for older adults.
Q: Are you a part of any Aging Studies organizations on campus?
Sarah: I’m a member of Sigma Phi Omega, the national honor society for Aging Studies. Sigma Phi Omega was the first honor society that I was invited to join and allowed me to be recognized with other peers for our excellence in the Gerontology field. This society [gives] me a connection to educators, community members, local professionals and students in the Gerontology department. It helps me stay connected and up-to-date with other members and their work through newsletters and meetings.
Q: What other hobbies and extracurricular activities do you enjoy?
Sarah: I like still photography as well as video production. l also like to hike, play table tennis, run, and eat!