Sophomores learn about successful aging through mentorship

Sophomore Hawa Sall, right, received professional advice from her mentor, Karla Roskos.
December 10, 2013

Students in Diane Martin’s Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS) class, “Natural and Social Science of Aging,” have been meeting with residents of a local retirement community to learn firsthand about successful aging.

Partnered with residents of Carroll Lutheran Village based on major or career interest, the matches “enabled students to not only ‘see’ and discuss the application of concepts/theories of successful aging we covered in class, but also provided a guide for students to begin considering what they can do with their major and how to be successful as a student and professional,” according to professor Diane Martin, director of the Center for the Study of Aging.

During their last meeting on Dec. 3, students and their senior mentors reflected on the experience overall. Some snuck in last minute snippets of advice before saying goodbye.

Edwin Oputa, a student from McDaniel Europe in Budapest, Hungary, originally hails from Nigeria. The Business and Economics major plans to earn a master's degree in Great Britain when he graduates, but before then, he’s been experiencing everything America has to offer with the help of his mentor, Dana Rice.

Sophomores learn about successful aging through mentorship
Edwin Oputa, left, from Nigeria, had never had a root beer before being partnered with mentor Dana Rice, who will be meeting Oputa’s father when he visits for Christmas.

Rice took Oputa for his first milkshake, first root beer and first American steak – the latter of which Oputa describes as the best meal he’s had since he’s been here.

“I think we’ve both learned a lot from each other,” said Rice, who served in the Marine Corps before he ended up owning the insurance company at which he worked for 43 years.

When Oputa’s father visits this month – the first time they’ll see each other in a year – Rice will be there to meet him.

Also a long distance from home was Anijke Simon, a double major in Psychology and Sociology. Her mentor, Bob Nicoll, worked 28 years for IBM after serving in the military.

Nicoll took her to a different local restaurant each time they met. Being from Los Angeles, Calif., Simon had never eaten a Maryland crab cake before this mentorship experience.

With her family so far away, both Simon and Nicoll agree that he served as “a bit of a surrogate father in some respects.” Nicoll will continue to advise her on next steps for law school even after the semester ends.

Hawa Sall of Baltimore also received professional advice from her mentor, Karla Roskos. With aspirations of becoming a geriatric nurse, Sall learned about career skills, professional communication and the importance of developing professional relationships from Roskos, a past nurse and health administrator.

Overall, Sara Reynolds of York, Pa. said the mentor program was “amazing.” Reynolds, who wants to be a gym teacher, chose the Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies course specifically because it involved working with people. She was impressed by her mentor, Alice Painter.

“She’s super active,” said Reynolds about Painter. “Sometimes I felt we were working around her schedule, not mine.”

Reynolds and Painter met almost every week instead of the requisite four times, and the mentor will be meeting Reynolds’ family before Christmas.

The lasting relationships formed between McDaniel students and senior mentors come as no surprise to Martin, who says, “We all have something to offer another person.”