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Making your mark in the second half of life

by Diana Seyb
Paul Irving, Marci Alboher and Helen Dennis (USC Photo/Maricela Hinojosa)
Paul Irving, Marci Alboher and Helen Dennis (USC Photo/Maricela Hinojosa)

“Encore, encore” is a familiar refrain for theatergoers. At USC, it signifies the start of something new.

“Making the Most of the Second Half of Life: An Encore Career Event,” which was organized by the USC Emeriti Center in partnership with the USC Career Center and the USC Alumni Association, was held on June 6 at the Leonard Davis Auditorium.

Marci Alboher, a former New York Times columnist and author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life, and Helen Dennis, an expert in aging, employment and retirement, served as speakers for a conversation moderated by Paul Irving, president of the Milken Institute.

“The event showcased the culture that values senior wisdom, knowledge and experience, and acknowledges that when people engage in purposeful and interesting work post-retirement, their energy and health increases,” said Janette Brown, executive director of the USC Emeriti Center.

In 2006, the Emeriti Center established Trojan Encore as “a way for USC retired faculty and staff to volunteer or work in paid USC part-time positions,” Brown explained.

The audience learned about “re-careering,” applying current skills and experience in a new career or supporting a special cause as an encore volunteer.

Susan Cook ’80 and Professor Emeritus of Religion John Orr shared their stories during the gathering.

Cook recalled her career path in which she started her own business and then became executive director of the Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation. Orr described his two encore careers in later life, first by becoming a documentary photographer for cities that have experienced environmental threats and then serving as an advocate for those dealing with hearing loss. As a member of the Hearing Loss Association of Los Angeles, Orr works with movie theater chains and LA performance venues to improve their assistive-listening systems.

Each attendee received a copy of Alboher’s book and had the opportunity to network with panelists during lunch. A recording of the event is available for viewing on the Emeriti Center website.

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