About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.

How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?

Essay response by Anna Wagemann, University of Nebraska at Kearney

College is a transformational time.  One learns, changes, and undergoes tremendous growth as a person.  Higher education intellectually stimulates and challenges students to think outside of the confining box of childhood.  In many cases, the young person is removed from their comfort zone, away from home and family.  This is what draws me to English.  Through literature, minds are exposed and have the ability to expand far beyond its previous dimensions.  Universal ideas of the world at large are thus introduced through the pages of a book.  There is an unquestionable truth about literature; stories are powerful.

Within my class, I will provide an extra credit opportunity entitled Connecting through American Classics.  Through this project, my students will be given a list of classic literature written by American authors and a reading partner.  However, this cohort will be far from a peer.  I will contact an in-home care service, and organize a list of interested senior adults who have a love for reading but may not be able to leisurely pick up a book any longer.  The purpose of this assignment will be to connect with one from a different generation through timeless literature.  The pair will choose their book, meet throughout the semester, and read-aloud a classic novel together.  If the senior is from a different country, a revised list of classics from that nation will be provided. The only stipulation of the book choice being one that the student has not already read.  If reading proves a challenging feat for the senior adult, the student will singularly lead the read-aloud.  After each session, the student will be encouraged to discuss the text with their senior partner.  Ideally, the senior can share personal stories of the past that relate to the classic at hand.  Real life tales of times bygone allow students to further develop insight into a drastically different era.  Furthermore, the senior will have the comfort of company. Both will experience, or possibly re-experience for the senior, the magic of a classic that has lasted through the ages.

After the pair completes their novel, the student will be required to write a three page, double spaced, two-part paper.  The first section will be a reflection.  The paper will have to include both personal insight as well as details about their partner.  Questions the students will ponder throughout the read-aloud, and answer within their reflection: What were your reactions, thoughts, and/or insights regarding the classic? Did reading aloud the novel influence your interpretation of the text?  If yes, how so?  What stories did your senior partner share with you?  Did they make connections with the text from their own lives?  How did these connections impact your own view of the novel?  Part two of the paper, the student will find a scholarly article relating to a historical aspect of the classic, preferably one that their partner connected with.  From there, they will take a stance for, against, or qualify the historical article in relation to the classic novel.  If applicable, the senior partner’s personal accounts will provide further support for their thesis.

Connecting through American Classics will bond an unlikely pair through ageless literature.  The in-home care senior will have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of a story read long ago, whereas, the student is given the chance to delve into a decades, even centuries, old timeless tale.  In the end, I hope for a wholesome, fulfilling, and positive journey for both partners as they connect through an American Classic.

About Anna

Anna is an English undergraduate at the University of Nebraska at Kearney aspiring to become a professor in higher education.

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