Claire Popovich

Ohio State University
2020

“As a Neuroscience major at Ohio State, everything I learned through the Scholars Program are topics I wouldn’t have otherwise discussed in the classroom. This emphasizes just one of the many things I love about the program: it elevates students who are called to and invested in the field of aging, regardless of academic background.”

My project was a retrospective of my ongoing volunteer work at Ohio Living Westminster-Thurber (OLWT), a life-plan community in Columbus, Ohio. In the spring of my freshman year at Ohio State I began volunteering at OLWT, where I was involved the launch of the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) program in the nursing home. OMA is an intergenerational art program, founded at the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University, that aims to build relationships, and value elders with dementia through art. Because the OMA program was originally designed for the assisted-living level, my volunteer supervisor and I had to engineer modifications for our artists in total-care, such as purchasing larger brushes for easier grip, using alternative tools and pre-painting backgrounds.

We have a lot of fun at OMA sessions, laughing, painting, sculpting and singing Perry Como. It is always my favorite part of the day. The connections I’ve made with the elders, families and staff are unparalleled. As OLWT’s longest-standing OMA volunteer, it has been incredible to see the growth of the program and I’m truly moved by the impact it makes on elders’ days. Through this experience I’ve learned the importance of meaningful activities for elders, and how influential these activities can be on health and quality of life.

Being a part of Ohio Scholars in Aging has been one of the highlights of my undergraduate career thus far. As a Neuroscience major at Ohio State, everything I learned through the Scholars Program are topics I wouldn’t have otherwise discussed in the classroom. This emphasizes just one of the many things I love about the program: it elevates students who are called to and invested in the field of aging, regardless of academic background. I was able to quickly bond with the other scholars because our passions share the same central focus, in supporting and advocating for the needs of older adults.

Although all of our lives changed very quickly due to the coronavirus, there was amazing support and communication among the scholars, and I feel so grateful for them. I’ve definitely made some forever friends through this program. I highly recommend it to all students who are interested!