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Faculty and staff gathered together to welcome students, returning and brand-new, to the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology on Thursday, August 23.

“I’m just as new as many of you freshmen—I’ve only been here six weeks. Our School is already fantastic, but I want to make it the greatest school ever,” said dean Pinchas Cohen, MD “I wish everyone good luck and a great beginning.”

Briefly discussing their research and classes taught, members of the faculty offered their own encouragement as well to the students.

“I want to teach you all how to advocate for your parents and grandparents after a hospitalization,” said John Walsh, PhD “The USC Leonard Davis School is a great launching pad for your next step, whatever it may be. We are all your advisors—we’ve all been there.”

“I work to address issues facing vulnerable elders who need support of some kind: social services, health care, wellness initiatives, economic security,” said Kathleen Wilber, PhD “ I study all the things we need to serve the aging society we have and how those get integrated to serve an individual holistically. I look forward to getting the chance to work with you.”

“It’s amazing for me to think I graduated from the first class offering the Master of Science in Gerontology in 1977, so in 1976 I was sitting out there in the audience just like you guys are today,” said Cheryl Svensson, PhD “Along with James Birren, PhD, I teach Psychological Development through Autobiography, which helps you find out who you are in the sense of where you’ve been and where you’re going by looking inside.”

After the faculty’s introductions, representatives from the Student Gerontology Association (SGA) and the School’s newest student organization, Gerontology, Allies and You (GAY) spoke.

USC Leonard Davis School Students Elena Gonzalez, Patrick Beck, and Morgan Levine

“Our goal is to explore issues unique to LGBT aging and to help raise awareness,” said GAY founder and grad student Brian Gilad Wilson. “We welcome LGBT members as well as our straight allies. I’d especially like to thank Associate Dean Maria Henke for helping us get started. Maria rocks!”

The program closed with Aaron Hagedorn, PhD, discussing several potential internship opportunities before all the students introduced themselves and spoke briefly about their interests.

Coming from Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Minnesota and California as well as from Jamaica, China, Japan and Thailand, the new students were united in their desire to help improve the quality of life for all the world’s older adults, and their enthusiasm to start the school year.

“Ever since I started working as a receptionist in an assisted living facility, I knew I wanted to make a difference for older adults,” said Sam Moghaddamfar, an incoming grad student. “I chose the USC Leonard Davis School because it’s the oldest and best school of gerontology in the world, and I’m so excited to begin.”

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