The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The joy of learning

Barbra Champion, an attorney practicing law for 25 years, left her practice to return to school.

Champion said she chose this path not because she needed classes for her profession, but for the sheer joy of learning.

Champion described her new schooling as “selfish education.”

“As you get older you find there are just so many interesting things to learn in the world,” she said.

Champion’s education is provided in part by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program that lets people ages 50 and older come to the U and take classes with their peers.

“There is so much energy, excitement, wisdom and enthusiasm as people come explore new learning interests and talk with one another and faculty,” said Anne Peterson, director of the institute.

The institute is new to the U, and is one of only 48 such programs in the United States.

For $400 per year, participants can take up to three classes per session and receive all the benefits of being a U student: library privileges, free access to computer labs, museums and recreation facilities.

There are other perks, too, as students don’t have to deal with the stress of grades or final exams.

Paul Johnson, who teaches the computer courses, says his students “sometimes have homework and hands-on exercises,” but there aren’t any big tests.

Classes offer older students a chance to socialize and enjoy one another’s company.

Johnson describes his classes as “a fun group. [They are] full of life and always have things to talk about and experiences to share.”

The institute held its first classes this past fall, and two of them-Learn to Use a Computer and Love it! and Tai Chi-Chi Kung-Gentle Movement and Meditation for Health and Healing-were so popular that the program decided to teach a special winter session to keep up with the demand.

Typical sessions will be six weeks long and will be held in the fall, spring and summer.

Despite its special title, the institute teaches classes that are similar to courses traditional students take on campus.

Participants may take classes like The Healing Power of Yoga to more specialized courses, such as Exploring and Protecting the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and Law, Society and Aging.

Last semester, Champion splurged and enrolled in classes that she’d always wanted to take but never had the time for. Of those taken, two were taught by the Osher Institute.

Champion especially enjoyed Exploring and Protecting the Bonneville Shoreline Trail because it got her walking every day.

In the future, the institute hopes to develop intergenerational service projects that would connect older students with the younger generation.

Peterson said she has older students with ideas that could help younger ones move through the calculus series more quickly.

“Mentoring is a natural fit,” Peterson said.

For more information about the Osher Institute, call 581-7973 or go to its Web site at

[email protected]

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