Spotlight: Katy Zeltinger
Outside of graduate school, Sergeant Zeltinger (right) serves alongside Sergeant Kessler (left) and many others in the 122nd Ohio National Guard Army Band
In which program or department are you currently enrolled?
Adult Development and Aging PhD Program, Cleveland State University
What got you interested in gerontology?
Throughout my military career I’ve worked with both young and old service members and veterans who’ve experienced unique and sometimes traumatic events. There are times when incredibly difficult decisions must be made and existential problems can become very salient for soldiers. These experiences can impact the trajectory of their adult lives. I wanted to understand this and in order to do so, I needed to study adult development.
What are your research interests?
During my undergrad, my initial interest came from my military experience. I wanted to know how people in general view an existential fear such as death, what may be driving that fear and, more importantly how people cope with it.
As a graduate student, my interests include coping, dementia, and veterans. My current research examines how individuals with dementia are coping with their overall illness experience and how that may impact well-being.
In terms of the field of gerontology, who inspires you and why?
Linda Clare, a dementia researcher and professor in the UK. Her research highlights the massive variability of the subjective experience among individuals living with dementia in terms of well-being and coping. The first time I read her work I saw a connection to my initial interest of how people cope with an existential problem. Individuals with dementia must cope with an illness that threatens their sense of self-identity.
What are you academic or career aspirations?
My military service will always be part of my career aspirations. I’ve about 12 years so far and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. My career as a research psychologist will work in tandem with my military career by focusing my studies in the veteran population. My goal is to place emphasis on veterans living with dementia and promote care strategies and protocols that include them as active participants in their own care and in research. I also envision myself to be an advocate for individuals living with dementia and fighting the stigmas and stereotypes that follow such a diagnosis.
How did you first become aware of or involved with OAGE?
My first semester of grad school was a whirl wind and at some point a classmate asked me if I was going to OAGE. Being from North Dakota, I said “no? what’s that?” I asked my advisor about it and she said it’s something I should definitely put on my radar.
What has been your involvement with OAGE?
My involvement so far has been presenting a poster at the 2018 conference. I also submitted a paper for the student awards and won “best graduate paper” at the conference.
What is your favorite aspect of the OAGE conference?
There are people from a variety of professions such as research, nursing, administration, and legislation. When talking with others, I could always find where our specific interests overlapped and how our careers can work together in achieving a major goal. This was a way for me to ground myself and see the bigger picture of my future.
As a graduate student, my interests include coping, dementia, and veterans. My current research examines how individuals with dementia are coping with their overall illness experience and how that may impact well-being.Katy Zeltinger