By Harry Jacobson-Beyer–
As explained in part one of this series on the Continuing Studies program at U of L, one group of continuing studies students are adults 65 years of age and older. These senior students attend the university tuition free and are not interested in obtaining a degree. They attend classes for the challenge of learning something new.
There are 53 senior adults enrolled in this program and five of them spoke to the Cardinal about their experiences at U of L and shared some of their life stories. Here are two of those stories.
Don Stern, 80, is a retired pharmacist. He owned his own pharmacy for 40 years and retired in 1997. He is married and has three daughters.
Don received his pharmacy degree from the University of Kentucky. His undergraduate studies were mostly science courses. He has been a Continuing Studies student for 18 years and all of his classes have been in the liberal arts.
“I’m interested in a lot of things because my training was all scientific. I missed all the liberal arts [in college] so I’ve been picking up the stuff I missed the first time around: history, political science, art history, music history, philosophy,” Stern told the Cardinal.
While continuing studies students may take courses for grades, Don audits all of his courses and doesn’t take exams, though he has taken an occasional quiz and has written a paper or two. He also does the reading.
“I did all the reading in philosophy and political science because I had no background at all in those courses and needed the reading to really get a foundation so I could even understand what the professor was talking about,” Stern said.
Senior adults take classes with the general student population. Most of their classmates are 18 to 22 years old. When asked about his relationship with his younger classmates Stern said “They keep you young….it’s a real kick to walk down one of the sidewalks on campus and somebody yells out ‘Hi Don.’ That takes 20 years off your life. It’s very, very, very heart warming.”
In addition to taking two courses a semester, Don is involved in the community. While working as a pharmacist, he was president of his synagogue and on the boards of the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Family and Vocational Services, JFVS, (now Jewish Family and Career Services). Currently, Don is on the Board of the Louisville chapter of the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union and the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Stern once told a friend he was taking classes at U of L. Stern said, “My friend said I was a sponge, that I have a thirst for learning. And I do and I am lucky it turns me on.”
Anita Goldin, 83, is a native Louisvillian, who attended Belknap Elementary and Highland Middle schools. She graduated from Atherton High School in 1946.
Anita received her undergraduate degree, a BS in Nutrition, in 1950 from Cornell University where she played women’s basketball, a very different game from today’s basketball.
Anita also played ping-pong at Cornell and was a women’s mixed-doubles champion. In the early ‘50s, during the Korean War, her husband, Al, was stationed at the POW command in Korea and provided medical treatment to the POWs. He was then stationed in Japan. Anita joined him there and told the Cardinal “I beat the colonel, the commanding officer of the base in Japan, in ping pong.”
Anita received her MA in sociology from U of L in 1969 and taught sociology at the university for 8 years. In 1978 she earned her MSSW from the Kent School and then worked at the JFVS helping Russian immigrants settle into their new lives in Louisville.
Al Goldin, 89, a retired internist, grew up in Ohio and got his undergraduate degree at Ohio State University in 1943. He got his MD from the University of Louisville in 1946.
Anita and Al take one or two classes a semester. Anita began taking courses at U of L in 1983 and Al began in 1992. Since she began taking classes through the Continuing Studies program, Anita has amassed 168 audit hours. Among the 56 classes she has taken, Anita has studied piano, film, algebra, history economics, acting, voice, drawing, painting, nutrition, archeology and anthropology.
In his 20 years in the Continuing Studies program Al has taken 37 classes and earned over 100 audit hours. He has studied music composition, english, art history, philosophy anthropology and more.
When asked about their interaction with the younger students Anita said, “They are very polite. They think we are so cute because we are so old. Al says I have to hold hands with him because my walking isn’t good. Someone said ‘it’s so good to see you so much in love.’ We are sort of an inspiration.”
In his spare time, Al still works part-time in his medical practice, Al plays the clarinet in the “River City Klezmer Band.” He also leads a Yiddish program at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). The group reads books written in Yiddish and discusses them—in Yiddish.
In the 1985 Al wrote “Your Guide to Care of the Heart,” a how-to book for the layman. He also translated and self-published a book from the Yiddish: “Shabtai Zvi, the Man Who Believed He Was the Messiah,” a historical novel by Shlomo Rosenberg.
In her spare time, Anita manages the family expenses and works out two times a week at the JCC.
Disclosure: Harry Jacobson-Beyer is a continuing studies student who qualifies for tuition remission.
This is the second installation in a four-part series on the continuing studies program.
Photo: Nathan Gardner/The Louisville Cardinal