Meet an Aging Studies Major

Mary Scouten, '17

Interview by Emily Laino’17, Health Care Management Major with Minors in Business and Aging Studies

Please tell us your current major/minor and any internship experiences you've had.
Mary is an Aging Studies major with a minor in Health Policy and Management.

Her first internship was at Vera House, Inc. in Syracuse, which is where she is from. Vera House, Inc. provides counseling for elder abuse and has a 24-hour hotline that people can call to report any abuse that has occurred. She worked in the education and outreach department for elder abuse and also prepared a 10th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event with about 200 people in attendance.

Then, last summer she worked for Adult Protective Services in Ithaca. She heard about the internship from Dr. Elizabeth Bergman because her husband is the boss there. During the summer she did a lot of referral visits with the caseworkers there. She would go to homes of older adults, generally fifty and older, to assist them with any care they needed. This is when she really became exposed to how underrepresented older adults are in our community, which made her want to do more.

This past year she interned at The Lama Law Firm, LLP. in Ithaca. She was interested in doing this because of her last internship at Adult Protective Services. She wanted to learn more about representing older adults’ rights. After her 180 hours of required internship experience, they hired her as a legal assistant and she has been working there since. She has also worked at Brookdale Senior living for the past two years where she does the recreation activities with the residents there.

Briefly describe your post-graduation plans.
After graduation she is interested in applying to law school and focus on legal representation of older adults. After looking at Syracuse University’s law program she knows that she wants to attend a law school where there is an elder law clinic. She wants to go into medical malpractice and nursing home negligence so she can positively impact the lives of older adults.

What was your best experience with the Gerontology Institute/Aging Studies?
Her best experience has been with the gerontology faculty and staff members. Freshman year when she was an exploratory major and had no idea what she wanted to study, she took Age Matters with Dr. Elizabeth Bergman. The class sparked her interest in older adults because she had never learned much about them before. Later, she talked to Dr. Bergman about aging studies and was also able to talk to the other professors in the department. The faculty really brought her into the department and made her experience so amazing with how much they care about their student’s success and the subject matter they teach.

Why should students consider a major or minor in gerontology?
Mary finds the Ithaca College/Longview partnership to be highly valuable. Currently, Mary is on the Ithacare Board. This is a professional board for the Ithaca/Longview partnership. She is the student Board Member for the 2016-2017 academic year. She has been exposed to how professional boards work and what goes into making the partnership a lasting success. The Board meets once a month and she is on two subcommittees which also meet once each month.

She stated that being able to take classes alongside older adults from the Ithaca community is one important benefit of being an aging studies major or minor. Taking classes and learning with the population you are learning about is a really unique aspect of being an aging studies major or minor. She also thinks that studying aging studies in a major or minor is so critical for success especially with the growing Baby Boomer population. She believes that learning how to work with and for all ages is a skill that will prepare someone more than others who have not taken the time to learn about older adults.

What has been your favorite experience working with older adults?
Her involvement with Project Generations, which is a club at IC where they create intergenerational bonds between IC students and older adults in the Ithaca community has been her favorite experience working with older adults. She explained that through the club an IC student is paired with an older adult and the two are able to have a friendship that they would not likely have had the opportunity to make. It has allowed her to grow within herself and the aging studies profession.

What is one piece of advice you would offer current gerontology majors/minors?
She would tell current gerontology majors and minors to become involved as much as possible whether it be with AGES, Project Generations, internships, or community service. She firmly believes that hands on experience will enhance your undergraduate experience. She advises those to stay motivated and work hard. Mary said the professors are here to help you and want you to do well so you can’t go wrong with talking to them about any questions or concerns you may have!

Mary Scouten