Back to School

SCU Alumni and senior community members are pursuing life-long education at SCU.

Almost five decades ago twins Tricia Davoren ’75 and Pamela Davoren ’75 were senior students bustling about campus ready to graduate. Now the two are back in their stomping grounds taking classes as seniors of a different kind but just as eager to learn. As part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute(OLLI) SCU alumni and local community members age 18 and older are invited to take university-level classes at SCU. 

OLLI members get to pick a variety of classes including U.S. history, LGBTQ+ studies and Rock & Roll while getting a taste of the Bronco experience. Tricia and Pamela have been members since OLLI’s inception and are eager to celebrate its 20th anniversary this spring.

“We’ve enjoyed every interesting and enlightening year encountering new people and ideas,” Tricia says. “I think a lot of people realize that comes with the territory of an intellectual institute. At this phase and stage of our lives, we have gained amazing and meaningful new perspectives that have impacted our worldview and perspectives that our younger selves just didn’t have.”

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OLLI accepts both alumni as well as members from the local community to partake in their classes. Pictured above Robert Senkewicz ’76 gave a teaching demonstration during one of OLLI’s events. Photo provided by Makoto Watanabe ’23.

At OLLI, students don’t need to do homework, take tests, or have a degree. All that’s required is a membership fee and a passion to learn. For Tricia, this ability to continue learning at an institute has been a part of her self-improvement and nourishes her soul. Lifelong learning as a whole is something Tricia believes to be integral to life for both students and educators.

As students who’ve walked around the block, Pamela believes they have the perfect combination of enthusiasm and understanding. With this unique student body, educators like Robert Senkewicz ’76 have also found new ways to conceptualize material and broaden their own understandings. The atmosphere of classes is also less stressful and has given Senkewicz a chance to teach purely for the joy of learning.

“One of the most moving experiences that I have is when people come up and say, ‘You open my eyes in ways that I hadn’t been thinking about before,’” Senkewicz says. “Having somebody who’s 60 years old, say that to you can be a very powerful kind of experience. I think times like that, I go back after class and say that’s what makes it worth it.”

With the coming of the 20th-anniversary, program director Andrea Saade hopes the OLLI will continue to serve as an enriching juncture in people’s lives. Saade explains that they’ve come a long way from only 25 people to a flourishing community. While the pandemic reduced their numbers, getting back on campus has brought new hope and eager students back to class. 

For Saade and members like Tricia and Pamela OLLI is more than a chance to continue learning. It has become a self-sustaining community that continues to foster friendships and keep people in the loop with historical and current events. 

“We’re not only learning from the instructors, but our fellow classmates,” Pamela says. “It’s socially engaging just to be in the classroom, not just some social events that we have also sprinkled throughout the year. One feeds off another [and] we nourish each other with having this in-person experience.”

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Program Director Andrea Saade(on the left) and Chair of the Curriculum Committee Carol Ross(on the right) hope that OLLI will continue to be a place for people to pursue lifelong learning. For Ross being a part of OLLI has been a fulfilling experience and the two look forward to celebrating OLLI’s 20th anniversary. Photo provided by Makoto Watanabe ’23.
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