UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Young Beacons and not-so-young Beacons

Fellow Beacons, lately you have seen a few articles about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, which is part of UMass Boston and many other colleges and universities across the country. You may have thought, “So what?” Certainly in my undergraduate days I would not have been very interested either. However, it turns out lifelong learning is important to all of us. 

As students, you are likely very involved in learning right now. You may have assumed once you complete your studies and earn your degree that you can put away the books, seminars and educational experiences. Clearly you do have that option. However, there are several very compelling reasons why you should never stop your efforts to add to your knowledge. 

From my perspective as a senior citizen and member of OLLI, continuing to engage with new information, fellow students and knowledge is extremely important. First, it helps keep my brain active and stimulated. Nothing good happens when you allow your mind to “vegetate.” Second, it’s great to meet new people and to socialize. It’s not only fun but it also helps to better understand and appreciate people who have different backgrounds and experiences. Third, if you stop learning you are liable to really miss out on the important events, new information and developments that are all around us every day. In addition, we all have a tendency to see things through the lens of our peers and age group, which can often lead to erroneous conclusions, bias and missing the bigger picture.

Why is it so important when you are young, as so many of you are? As you know, the world is changing at a ferocious pace with new technological developments driving unforeseen changes in every aspect of life including careers. There are very few jobs that have not been affected by these changes, and today there are many careers that did not even exist just a few years ago. In addition, many employers expect, and in some cases require, their staff to keep honing their skills and expanding their knowledge. If you expect to have a long, successful career, lifelong learning is critical.

So, what’s my point? We share this beautiful harbor-front campus at UMass Boston. However, we are missing a great opportunity to learn from each other if we stay in our respective silos. I propose that we find more opportunities to get acquainted. We have been fortunate to meet and learn from many OLLI scholars who are pursuing advanced degrees at UMass Boston. Their knowledge, expertise and fresh perspectives have brought new information and understanding about a wide range of topics. Some of their courses have been illuminating, thought provoking and very profound. Some have been entertaining and fun. In turn, I think they have enjoyed interacting with us—the “old geezers.” It has given them an opportunity to learn who we are, what we are about and even open their eyes to the fact that we can offer a tremendous wealth of knowledge and real-life experience that is not typically found in textbooks and lecture halls.

I believe there is a tremendous opportunity to do some more “life-long learning” from each other. We certainly would love to meet more of you and to learn about your studies. On the other hand, many of my fellow OLLI students have incredible knowledge and experience that might not only be of interest to you but perhaps related to your future career of choice. Let’s connect via email at [email protected] to start the process to pursue the opportunity to do some “lifelong learning” from each other. I look forward to hearing from you.