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USC Davis welcomes students

Faculty and staff gathered to welcome new and returning students to the USC Davis School of Gerontology on Aug. 23.

“I’m just as new as many of you freshmen — I’ve only been here six weeks. Our school is already fantastic, but I want to make it the greatest school ever,” said Dean Pinchas Cohen. “I wish everyone good luck and a great beginning.”

Briefly discussing their research and classes, members of the faculty offered their own encouragement as well.

“I want to teach you all how to advocate for your parents and grandparents after a hospitalization,” said John Walsh, USC Davis associate professor. “The USC Davis school is a great launching pad for your next step, whatever it may be. We are all your advisers — we’ve all been there.”

Professor Kathleen Wilber added: “I work to address issues facing vulnerable elders who need support of some kind: social services, health care, wellness initiatives, economic security. I study all the things we need to serve the aging society we have and how those get integrated to serve an individual holistically. I look forward to getting the chance to work with you.”

Cheryl Svensson MS ’77 explained: “It’s amazing for me to think I graduated from the first class offering the Master of Science in Gerontology in 1977, so in 1976 I was sitting out there in the audience just like you guys are today. Along with James Birren, I teach ‘Psychological Development Through Autobiography,’ which helps you find out who you are in the sense of where you’ve been and where you’re going by looking inside.”

After the faculty’s introductions, representatives from the Student Gerontology Association and the school’s newest student organization, Gerontology, Allies and You (GAY) spoke.

“Our goal is to explore issues unique to LGBT aging and to help raise awareness,” said Brian Gilad Wilson, GAY founder and graduate student. “We welcome LGBT members, as well as our straight allies. I’d especially like to thank Associate Dean Maria Henke for helping us get started.”

The program closed with Aaron Hagedorn, clinical associate professor, discussing several potential internship opportunities before all the students introduced themselves and spoke briefly about their interests.

Hailing from Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Minnesota and California, as well as Jamaica, China, Japan and Thailand, the new students were united in their desire to help improve the quality of life for the world’s older adults.

“Ever since I started working as a receptionist in an assisted living facility, I knew I wanted to make a difference for older adults,” said Sam Moghaddamfar, an incoming graduate student. “I chose the USC Davis school because it’s the oldest and best school of gerontology in the world, and I’m so excited to begin.”

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