When you have more than 300 senior citizens passionate about lifelong learning, like at the College of Charleston’s Center for Creative Retirement (CCR), it’s only natural that a scholarship for younger students would emerge.

In its 25th year, CCR is composed of a diverse group of seniors who share an enthusiasm for education. This self-governing group holds weekly meetings throughout the academic year and offers field trips to historical and cultural sites.

In 2004, CCR established the Center for Creative Retirement Scholarship. Today, it provides $5,000 a year in scholarships to students studying gerontology at CofC.

“With our growing aging population, it’s important that we recognize students who are focusing on the gerontology discipline,” says Jean Marterre, chair of the CCR scholarship committee. “In fact, it would be great to see a gerontology major or even a minor at the College.”

Kylie Vorhis, represents the 19th student to receive the gerontology scholarship. Vorhis, a sociology major and psychology minor, has taken two gerontology-related courses, works with respite care and conducts home visits for a life-care company in Charleston.

“I like connecting with older people and learning their life stories,” says Vorhis. “I personally view aging as a positive experience and see it as my responsibility to help people cherish their final stages of life and reflect positively on what they accomplished.

“The CCR scholarship gives me the opportunity to further my education and career in gerontology,” adds Vorhis. “It’s great to realize that there are people who support my efforts. It really motivates me.”

Past scholarship recipients agree. Having support and recognition of their vocation by CCR meant a lot, and their career choices validate just how valuable a scholarship can be. Past recipients have gone on to careers that focus on the elderly, including as a geriatric care manager, a Hospice care provider, a mail order pharmacy manager, an Alzheimers and Parkinsons researcher, and a lawyer focusing on end-of-life issues. Others continue to pursue higher education in gerontology, including a masters in gerontology and medical school.

“Students who choose to study aging are very special,” says Brenda Sanders, sociology and anthropology senior instructor at the College. “We appreciate CCR recognizing students who focus on gerontology. We need more people who love and value aging.”

Featured image: Scholarship recipient Kylie Vorhis, second from left, with Bob Stancik, Brenda Sanders, Jean Marterre and Bob Williams.