Key topics included importance of social interaction, engagement in older adults
By Malorie Burkett and Kim Ivey
VCU College of Health Professions
Feb. 18, 2022
From left: Tracey Gendron, Alexa van Aartrijk, Joe Casey, Hon. Leslie Haley, President Rao, Rachel Ramirez and Susan Parish at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield.
VCU President, Michael Rao, Ph.D., recently visited the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield (LLI) where he emphasized the importance of social and mental engagement to the wellness of older adults.
Located in Chesterfield County, the LLI is a member-supported organization designed to meet the educational and social enrichment needs of adults age 50 and "better.” The LLI was established in partnership with the Virginia Center on Aging at VCU, Chesterfield County Public Schools and Chesterfield County.
Pictured from left: Susan Parish, Tracey Gendron and Rachel Ramirez
“The Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield strives to be a welcoming community of diverse members dedicated to lifelong learning and personal enrichment,” said Rachel Ramirez, executive director of the LLI. “We are proud to offer midlife and older adults a myriad of opportunities to enrich their lives by engaging in thought-provoking lectures and lively discussions in a social learning environment.”
Accompanying Rao during the visit were Ramirez, Susan Parish, Ph.D., dean of the VCU College of Health Professions; Tracey Gendron, Ph.D., chair of the College’s Department of Gerontology and executive director of the Virginia Center on Aging; and Matthew Conrad, vice president for government and external relations for VCU and VCU Health. Also present were members of the LLI Board of Directors along with Chesterfield County officials, including members of the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Aging & Disabilities Services.
Rao expressed his interest in lifelong learning and his appreciation for the members supporting each other as they stay active and engaged to combat loneliness and social isolation. He also discussed the increasing number of older adult patients coming to VCU for healthcare, and how VCU's mission to put patient needs first includes expanding geriatrics programming at VCU Health and hiring additional geriatricians to treat those patients.
LLI is a learning community of peers who are committed to ongoing education and their own intellectual development. Members want to stay current, curious about the world of ideas, and involved with their own learning. The Institute develops and offers daytime courses, lectures and special events on a wide range of topics taught by volunteer instructors. Additionally, there are no exams or credits, and no college degrees are required.
LLI Chesterfield is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is equal opportunity and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national or ethnic origin.
For more information, visit the Lifelong Learning Institute.