From assisted living to free college courses

SANBORN, N.Y. (WIVB) — Three higher education-seekers are giving the term ‘college seniors’ a whole new meaning.

Marge, Cecile, and Sandra, could’ve opted to stay back at the assisted living facility Tuesday, and played Bingo, or go to a sing along. Instead, they’re starting their second week at Niagara County Community College.

“It’s just a lot of fun and it’s enjoyable. I’m meeting a lot of different people.” said Marge Reinhard, who used to be a nursing assistant, but her goal now at 73-years-old is to write a novel. “The title would be ‘This is My Life: The Way I Lived It”

“They’re living. It’s assisted living and that’s what they’re doing right now,” said Dave Tosetto, co-owner of  Mount View Assisted Living in Lockport, who encouraged them to do this. “It started out actually with liberal arts, they kept saying we want to go back and take liberal arts and then it moved to creative writing and I said, well you realize that creative writing isn’t with a pencil and paper anymore.”

Their first course, and first experience back at school had to be of all things, introduction to computers. Sandra Leaming is in her sixties, and has never used computers.

“I was kind of worried what it was going to be like using a computer for the first time, you know but it turned out to be very interesting.”

Niagara County Community College offers anyone over the age of 60 a free college course per semester. Mount View is paying for the ladies’ books and computers back at the facility.

91-year-old Cecile Tegler will soon be comfortable emailing her daughters.

“It’s too complicated for me, ha ha, but I’ll learn, I’m sure. I’ve learned many other things.”

Cecile once worked at Bell Aircraft and helped the Army test planes during World War II, so navigating a mouse doesn’t scare her off.

“I was given this opportunity and I could not resist it, and I carry, it’s in my genes I guess.”

“The whole facility has been energized by this,” said Tosetto. “These three ladies have raised the bar and the rest of our residents are just beyond excited about wanting to be the next one up.”

The younger students in the class seem to get something out of it that can’t be found in books, according to Niagara County Community College Director of Student Development, Allison Armusewicz.

“Just seeing the response of the professor and the students in the class, how welcome they have been, we can see what they add to the classroom environment and the campus as a whole.”

The University at Buffalo offers a similar Auditing Program for Senior Citizens. Those over 60 years of age can sit in on college courses for free, but they would not get college credits for the free course the way they would at Niagara County Community College.

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