Colleen Morris is a former teacher who in her retirement continues to seek learning opportunities. “My education will never be complete,” she said.
Morris is one of the students at Lipscomb University, taking part in the Lifelong Learning program.
The Lifelong Learning Senior Alumni Project offers non-credit courses for senior adults. Each class is taught on campus by teachers who are highly qualified and passionate in their subject areas.
“It’s open to everybody, not exclusively for Lipscomb alumni,” said Amy Hamar, Lifelong Learning director. “We love newcomers.”
Fellow Lipscomb alumna Laura Tywater accompanies Hamar as program coordinator, a duo beloved by students.
The program has become very popular through the years and its biggest promoters are Lifelong Learning students, said Hamar. Students will often come to class and love it so much they bring friends, she said.
Shalynn Womack used the program as part of her homeschool curriculum; she and her teenage daughter attended Lifelong Learning classes together. Womack said one of their favorites was a class taught by a former criminal investigator.
“We’ve been coming for at least ten years, said Womack. “It’s just something different and we really enjoy it.”
The Lifelong Learning Program includes travel opportunities and is offering two trips in the coming year. Each class session includes a preliminary class on the destination about to be visited.
Randy Valenti said that years ago he and his wife had been about to leave for a trip to Cuba when she suddenly died from a heart attack. Now years later, he is excited to go to Cuba with Lifelong Learning in March of 2019 on the program's first trip to Cuba. In preparation, Valenti is taking the class “Cuba and the United States” taught by Frank Robinson.
“It keeps my mind occupied,” said Valenti. “It’s enlightening to learn in a group where we can discuss and react together.”
While some are enthusiastic travelers, others enjoy the classroom experiences.
“These are classes we want to take,” said Morris, who loves history and simply wanted to learn about Cuba. Morris shared that she loves to talk with her grandchildren, who are in high school and college, about what each of them are learning in the classroom. She gets extra excited when they are studying the same topic she is. “They can tell me something I don’t know, and then I can tell them something maybe they don’t know.”
Each class offers a diverse syllabus; some include special speakers, performances or field trips. Morris said she once took a course on Scotland that ended with the class eating out in a pub.
There are no tests and no homework. Each student is essentially auditing the class, taking notes if they want or just absorbing information through the lectures, said Hamar.
“It’s just plain fun,” said Morris who is so engaged she claims, “There are no tests, but I’ve studied, I’m ready to take a test!”
For more information on classes and travel opportunities with Lifelong Learning, visit https://www.lipscomb.edu/alumni/lifelong-learning-travel