Education is Ageless - Senior Citizen Continues Life Long Learning While at Retirement Community

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Arline Rochkind, a resident of the Masonic Village at Elizabethown retirement community, recently earned her Master's Degree in American Studies from Penn State Harrisburg, continuing her love of life long learning.

“This desire for lifelong learning and personal development plays a central role in the future plans of many retirees.” Joy Hubshman, director of sales and marketing at Masonic Village at Dallas

It was both a fearful and exhilarating moment when Arline Rochkind decided to go back to school and earn her bachelor’s degree. Mostly because she was 62 years old, or “62 years young,” as she’ll correct you.

Twelve years later, she walked across the stage to accept another degree – a master’s in American studies from Penn State Harrisburg.

“At the beginning, I was worried how I would fit in,” Arline said. “Turns out, we studied things I’ve lived through, and other students wanted to know about my experiences.”

Arline has always had a passion for life long learning and pursued her first degree out of high school at Hunter College in New York. Her degree was interrupted when she met her husband, Michael, and his engineering job took them to central Pennsylvania. Then came two children and a job with the Department of Welfare.

“I was happy working, but I always said someday I would go back to school,” she said. “Once I make up my mind to do something, you better watch out.”

She enrolled in Harrisburg Area Community College while working full-time and obtained an associate’s degree in general studies and a paralegal certificate at age 46.

Almost 20 years passed, and her desire to return to school was stronger than ever. Not wanting to put their lives on hold, Arline attended school in the fall and winter, and she and Michael, now retired, traveled in the spring and summer.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Penn State Harrisburg in 2004. Arline enjoyed her experience and made up her mind, officially as a “senior citizen,” to go back for a master’s degree. She was the oldest member of Penn State Harrisburg’s American Studies Graduate Program.

“I read everything twice,” Arline said. “I was always able to retain information quickly. This time around, I found it harder, but I still enjoyed every class.”

The late nights were well worth it. Arline completed her last semester with one of her most memorable works, her thesis on “The New Negro Movement: Langston Hughes and the New Harlem Renaissance.”

She no longer stresses over writing term papers and taking finals. A resident of the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, a retirement community, Arline enjoys dancing, swimming, reading (she started a book club on campus), creative writing and most of all, seeing and studying people and things.

“I went back to school because I had a burning desire to know more about everything,” Arline said. “I still do. Always look forward. Never look back.”

Enriching Partnerships

Access to educational and cultural events enriches lives. Masonic Villages’ proximity and close ties to local colleges and universities gives residents plenty of options, as well as benefits for students.

Masonic Village at Elizabethtown residents attend Elizabethtown College’s Presidential Community Enrichment Series and enjoy athletic events and lectures free of charge. College interns work with the Masonic Village Child Care Center and Masonic Children’s Home, as well as other departments. Students have helped residents learn video equipment and social media, provided music lessons for youth at the children’s home and presented musical programs.

With a walking path connecting Masonic Village at Dallas to Misericordia University, residents can easily participate in cultural and sporting events and fitness programs. They may take non-credit classes and workshops or visit the state-of-the-art library. Masonic Village invites faculty to participate in its Healthier Selves lecture series, and students have taken advantage of internship and job opportunities with the Masonic Village.

“This desire for life long learning and personal development plays a central role in the future plans of many retirees as they want to continue to acquire new knowledge and skills in retirement,” Joy Hubshman, director of sales and marketing at Masonic Village at Dallas, said. “More and more seniors want a place to retire that is active, intellectually stimulating and intergenerational, all of which can be provided by a nearby college or university campus.”

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Debra L. Davis
since: 05/2011
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Masonic Villages of Pennsylvania

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