As a student in the USC Leonard Davis School’s progressive Master of Science in Gerontology degree program, Stephanie Bolton will receive her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Aging, along with a minor in French, this May, and will finish her master’s degree in just one additional year. Even with her busy academic schedule, she has taken on several extraordinary roles both within and outside of USC.
“I love being involved and meeting and interacting with new people, and I find that the more I get out and immerse myself, the more gratifying experiences I have and the more passionate I become about the issues that matter to me,” Bolton says.
Serving as the President of the Student Gerontology Association (SGA), she oversees all programming, events and service activities for the USC Leonard Davis School student group. From recruiting students to participate in the AlzLA’s annual Walk4Alz, organizing food drives for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and gathering holiday gifts for local senior centers, to planning guest lectures and an annual alumni dinner, Bolton serves as the main point of contact for her fellow gerontology students looking to get involved in SGA’s vast array of professional and extracurricular events.
She also works to recruit students for community service work, including for YouthCare, a caregiver respite program of the Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s, as well as for respite care services at the Aging into the Future Conference on technology and aging taking place in downtown Los Angeles this April. Bolton also kept caregivers in mind with her recent internship with The Memory Kit, LLC, in Atlanta, Georgia, where she assisted with the launch of Care Card, an app designed for coordinating care among different caregivers.
“Caregiving is an extremely taxing job, so I think that any way we can give back to those in need or develop new products and systems to help the current population affected by debilitating diseases is essential to our future,” she says.
Bolton’s service work doesn’t just involve older adults. As a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, she developed and implemented the USC chapter’s risk management plan for member safety and health. She has also developed mentoring relationships with girls at local middle schools through the Women and Youth Supporting Each Other program, which encourages college-age women to serve as role models and sources of support for young girls.
Bolton also supports research and other scholarly activities within the USC Leonard Davis School. As a research assistant in the laboratory of Professor Valter Longo, she’s completing a senior thesis on the effects of a short-term fasting-mimicking diet on brain changes in Alzheimer’s-predisposed mice, and has presented her findings during the USC Undergraduate Research Symposium. She also provides administrative support for the USC Fall Prevention Center of Excellence and assists prospective and current students of the center’s Executive Certificate in Home Modification courses.
“Being able to study and learn from some of the top experts in gerontology at USC has been a beyond enriching and enlightening experience,” Bolton says. “One thing that has been consistent throughout my time in the USC Leonard Davis School is the enthusiasm that professors have when teaching. It’s clear that they are in this field because this is their passion.”
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Vitality magazine with the title “Making an Impact.” Photos by Stephanie Kleinman.