Combating the invisibility of Senior aged students on campus
By Lee Taylor
Walking onto the San Diego State University campus for the very first time I paused for a few moments, purely for speculation. I stood smack in the middle of the everything simply observing the many students strolling around me — most of whom were in their 20s, gabbing and texting as they walked by — and realized I could’ve been a fixed statue, for no one really noticed me.
So many skateboards buzzed quickly down the walkways as well, even though technically they weren’t really allowed. I couldn’t help but think there was an accident in the making. It was then that I thought, “Where are the Seniors, the Senior Aged Students?”
I know they’re here too, hiding somewhere on this crowded campus. Oh, yes, I do manage to see one every now and then in the library, or cafeteria.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to really actually communicate with each other!” I pondered. Society today is so fast paced, now that we are living in the Digital Age, and as such we are sadly losing the human touch. I can’t help but believe it’s all due to the numerous gadgets around that seem to be of more importance than an actual, physical human being.
“How do we get back that human touch we once had?” I thought. When we talk to each other, we are not really truly listening to each other. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. How do we learn to slow down and actually listen to what is being said? There is an important message that is screaming out to be heard, a voice with a passionate mission!
There are amazingly about 100,000 new student applications into SDSU each year — a number that continues to increase each year — yet the actual total population of SDSU is about 33,000. I feel exceptionally very fortunate indeed for being accepted into SDSU as a senior-aged student, and especially into an impacted criminal justice program.
I realize that I’m part of a very small minority population since most students are between 18-26 years old. As such, I have felt that there was absolutely a dire need on campus for senior students to receive some sort of support. And there is! I soon found out there’s a 60-Plus program in place, which offers free tuition to those who fulfill the necessary requirements. What a great benefit!
But I later found a massive problem: very few seniors were aware that this 60-Plus program even existed, as it is not being fully marketed by SDSU. I can only imagine that’s because it is not profitable for the university. It also does not provide for any other support except except paid tuition.
Don’t get me wrong, paid tuition is an absolutely wonderful benefit, but why not extend it further? Because of this tremendous void, I felt it vital to start from scratch with a brand new Aztec Seniors 50+ Group on campus. I actually thought to drop the senior age rating to include 50, as AARP actually considers that to be the official age of a senior.
There are several problems to overcome before this type of program can come to fruition. The first is I don’t have the names of these targeted senior students due to privacy issues. In addition, just how many are there, and how do I even round them up?
I then thought, why not a simple email blast? Not that easy I found. I needed to provide the proper paperwork from a faculty member to the correct office to receive permission. Also, to make our group official on campus, I needed a minimum of five students to put in the official paperwork, go to some meetings, etc.
I consider myself to be a virgin at SDSU, so to speak, having yet to learn the ropes of where everything was or how to do things. So, one by one, when I saw a senior on campus, I asked them if they were aware of the 60+ program and if they would be interested in joining a senior group.
As I mentioned before, most were not even aware that this program even existed and they wanted more information, which motivated me even more to start a seniors group. I can surely jump whatever new hurdles I may be challenged with along, for I am very determined to make this group successful for the betterment of all. Imagine, seniors helping seniors. Hey, that’s a good slogan.
I should mention I’m very blessed to have found a faculty member who also believes that a senior group is in fact needed, would have value, and also finds it odd there hasn’t been one set up already. Now is the ultimate time, so here is my email blast of sorts:
Aztec Seniors 50+ Group
“We are ‘Aztecs for Life,’ we are also seniors in life & living much longer, so let’s empower each other!”
Our mission is to meet up, network, laugh, seek positive perspectives as we age, share our stories, inspire each other, give moral support, embrace diversity, encourage the power of education, explore new ideas, share events, discuss issues, develop new trusted friendships, be pro-active & challenge the status quo of everyday senior life.
Briefly, about me: This is my first semester, I was transferred into SDSU as a “junior” (the irony doesn’t escape me) and my major is criminal justice. I am a proud, strong independent senior woman, and strongly feel that there is a dire need for a senior group here at SDSU. I am really excited, and extremely motivated — filled with so many wonderful ideas and possibilities about our new group.
Anyone who is interested in joining our new Aztec Seniors 50+ Group on campus, or if you have any questions, or even new ideas, please feel free to contact me. I really look forward to hearing from you all. We as “seniors” are very much a minority here at SDSU. Let our voices be heard. Seniors have tremendous value, and matter very much! So, let’s get our group officially started, for “Seniors Have No Time to Waste!”
Lee A. Taylor, President
Aztec Seniors 50+ Group