Alumni in the Field

Jana Jones
STU Degree: BA '07
Major: Gerontology/Sociology
Job Title: Memory Cafe & Healthy Brain Program Coordinator
Location: Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work? 
I am primarily responsible for developing and managing some specific programs for the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick. Specifically, the expansion of our Memory Cafe Program to 16 communities across the Province. I am also working on piloting a new "Minds in Motion" program in 2016. The development of these programs also requires me to recruit and manage volunteers, who are crucial to the success of our programs and services.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
I regularly draw on knowledge I obtained from course work in Gerontology and Sociology. It was a wonderful background to have and taught me how to think critically in my career thus far. I would recommend gaining as much experience as possible in the field you wish to pursue. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer with and for elders (the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick being one - email me!). Be on the lookout for opportunities to become involved with events and activities in your community. Many organizations also accept interns and student placements, which are a wonderful way to gain hands-on experience in the field. If you are interested in one day being paid to work directly with the ageing population, the best thing you can do is volunteer with them now. I promise, it will only fuel your passion and desire to be a catalyst for change, and to do your part to be a bright spot in their day.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
Aside from the knowledge and enjoyment I gained from my courses, I graduated with a number of valuable relationships and connections. I have been so fortunate to keep in touch with my Gerontology professors over the years, and have benefited greatly from that ongoing working relationship. I am also very thankful to have kept in touch with a number of my classmates, and have had the pleasure of working with many of them since graduation. Always keep in mind that your success is very dependent on connections and relationships made along the way.

Megan O'Hara
STU Degree: BA ’11
Major: Gerontology
Job Title: Community Development Coordinator for the Kings Way LifeCare Alliance
Location: Quispamsis, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
The world of long-term care is changing and evolving quickly in New Brunswick, as are the wants and needs of the people living in our homes. Because of this, my role as Community Development Coordinator for the Kings Way LifeCare Alliance is constantly changing. One of my roles is to collaborate with others to develop new programming that brings the community in to our homes. One way we have done this is by hosting a children's summer camp at our homes. This gives the kids a chance to learn about nursing homes and how they can be good volunteers.
 
We also work to develop ways in which our residents can give back. Just because a person lives in long-term care, doesn't mean that they can no longer give back and help others. Right now we are working to develop a program with a local school where our residents pack backpacks with food for children, who may go without nutritious food over the weekend.
 
How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
Students at STU are lucky to have a really great Gerontology Department. Because our population is aging so quickly, it is really great to take advantage of these courses regardless of your field of study. Issues pertaining to seniors can be relevant in the field of Politics, Sociology, Human Rights, Science, Business etc. Gerontology and having an understanding of senior's issues will become increasingly relevant as the number of older adults continues to outnumber young people in the province.
 
I did a double major in Political Science and Human Rights with a minor in Gerontology. By the time I realized how interested I was in Gerontology I was almost finished my course work. For that reason I decided to continue studying Gerontology after graduation by pursuing a Masters Degree in Family Studies and Gerontology from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, NS.
 
I think if students have an interest in seniors and aging the best way to get experience is to spend time working/volunteering with them. I volunteered throughout my time at STU at the  Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital where I would often encounter seniors staying in the hospital on a long-term basis for many reasons such as awaiting long-term care placement. I learned a lot from the people I would sit and chat with and it really solidified my interests and made me realize that I wanted to continue studying Gerontology. Fredericton has great long-term care facilities that would probably really appreciate having students come in to volunteer.
 
How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
STU helped me develop a lot of skills that I have been able to use in my career. I think my classes at STU gave me the confidence to ask questions and to give my opinion and to share ideas. Some of the best ideas surface when a group of people are discussing issues and ideas together. The small classes allowed my classmates and myself to work together for projects or to bounce ideas and opinions around during class discussions. I found that I could often learn a lot from my classmates when having these discussions or impromptu debates.