Master of Arts in Gerontology Inspires a Passion for Aging Policy

For Master’s student Andrea Voras, aging policy must change to meet the needs of the growing population of older adults.

For over 20 years, Andrea Voras has worked to improve the health and safety of older adults. She’s seen firsthand how government policies impact the daily lives of seniors, so she’s passionate about aging policy. “I am living it every day,” she says. “I see flaws in the system and want to enact change.”

In her current role at senior-focused SCAN Health Plan, Voras coordinates in-home support services to keep older adults out of hospitals and nursing homes. “It’s all about creating a circle of support so older adults can be independent as possible,” she says. “My hope is that they can live happily and have a good quality of life.”

Voras sees the injustice of ageism and isolation that older adults experience. She wants the development of more affordable housing for seniors and more age- and dementia-friendly cities. She has many ideas for health insurance reform.

In 2019, wanting to learn more, Voras searched online for “master’s in gerontology.” USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology appeared at the top of the list. “I completed the online form and admissions counselor Sara Robinson called me right away,” she says. “The Master of Arts in Gerontology (MAG) program seemed like a perfect fit.”

An extraordinary caliber of professors

USC Leonard Davis is the nation’s premier school of gerontology. Part of a world-class research university, the school offers students direct access to some of the best minds in aging studies. Faculty members are leaders in aging research with diverse backgrounds in public health, medicine, neuroscience, public policy, nutrition, sociology and more.

“The caliber of the professors is extraordinary. The amount of information they have — it’s like touching the sky,” Voras says.

For example, a class that transformed Voras’ perspective on Medicare was Social Policy and Aging with Mireille Jacobson. Jacobson is an applied micro-economist whose research focuses on how health care policies affect well-being. In addition to being an associate professor at the USC Leonard Davis School, Jacobson is the co-director of the Aging and Cognition Program at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics.

Midway through her MAG, Voras has been immensely inspired by her experience at USC Leonard Davis. “You come here, and they give you all this information. Then your whole perspective about gerontology changes. It’s amazing what knowledge can do for you,” she says.

A family for the student

The student experience at USC Leonard Davis is highly personalized. Voras describes it as a family. “They are proactive in anything the students need and have done an amazing job of reaching out to us during COVID-19,” Voras says.

What’s more, professors go above and beyond letting students know that they can reach them anytime, according to Voras.

Just recently, she reached out to Paul Nash, her developmental psychology professor last spring. Voras recalls, “I contacted Dr. Nash and right away he invited me for a Zoom meeting, even though I am not in his class anymore. ‘What do you need, Andrea?’ he said. He was right there for me.”

A world of opportunity

Voras sees many opportunities in gerontology and aging services for students at USC Leonard Davis. A master’s in gerontology is a versatile degree. For those with experience working with older adults, a master’s degree can enhance their work in the industry. For students just out of undergrad or coming from a different career track, it can open any number of career paths.

The youngest baby boomers will reach age 65 by 2030, creating the largest retirement age population the U.S. has seen. Voras says there will be an increased demand for jobs in areas such as housing, assisted living, government programs that serve older adults, teaching and social work, among other fields.

Voras, however, is focused on policy. “If we want change, it needs to come from policy. New policies will deliver new regulations which, in turn, will implement the changes,” Voras explains. “We are all going through the same process of aging. Let’s not wait until we’re 80. Let’s start working now.”

To learn more about Master’s degree programs at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, call us at (213) 740-5156.