Complete Story


Ohio Scholars in Aging Program Provides Opportunities for Future Leaders to Help Ohio Prepare for an Aging Population


The Ohio Scholars in Aging Program cultivates future decision-makers and designers of aging services in Ohio. The program engages current college students to ensure that Ohio communities and businesses design and implement solutions that address the issues, opportunities, and impact of an aging population. During the spring semester, ten students are participating to help prepare and build a responsive statewide infrastructure for our aging population.

“Today’s college students are tomorrow’s policy-makers, advocates, and providers for aging services and supports,” said Ursel J. McElroy, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. “These scholars will become leaders in a variety of fields that contribute to innovation.”

Recently the scholars met in Columbus with a panel of legislators from the Ohio House of Representatives Aging and Long-Term Care Committee and the Ohio Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee. Director McElroy moderated the discussion, which provided an overview of the needs of older adults and the role the legislature plays in improving the lives of older Ohioans and their caregivers.

Scholars in Aging encourages students of all disciplines to consider how their work affects Ohio’s aging population. Students participate in unique networking opportunities and learn about the state’s policy-making process. Each student is committed to serving older adults and their caregivers, developing person-centered resources and services, and fostering independence and autonomy throughout the lifespan.

Spring Semester 2020 Ohio Scholars in Aging:

  • Lynne Azar, of Poland, Ohio, will graduate in May with a master’s in gerontology from Youngstown State University. She is interning at Family First Adult Day Services in Austintown. Her duties include client interaction, development of programs, cognitive assessments, marketing, and other administrative tasks.
  • Susan Booher, of Columbus, will graduate this summer from The Ohio State University with a master’s in design research and development and a graduate interdisciplinary specialization in aging. She is interning at Dublin Retirement Village in assisted living memory support. Her research investigates the potential of biophilic design components to improve the moods and activities of daily living for older adults with dementia.
  • Marissa Jackson, of Toledo, is a senior majoring in social work at the University of Toledo. She is interning with MemoryLane Care Services. She organizes group activities in the center, gives presentations to the board on survey results, and conducts intake assessments.
  • Devon Jones, of Dayton, is earning his master’s in social administration and non-profit management with a certificate in gerontological studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is interning at Neighborhood Connections in Cleveland. He creates and facilitates programming that ensures older adults are able to age in place.
  • Claire Popovich, of Novelty, is a junior majoring in neuroscience at The Ohio State University. She volunteers at Ohio Living Westminster-Thurber in Columbus. She has assisted with the launch of the Opening Minds through Art program, a therapeutic, intergenerational art program designed to improve cognition in people with dementia.
  • Alec Rhodes, of Silver Lake, is a graduate research associate working on a Ph.D. in sociology at The Ohio State University. His internship is with the College of Education and Human Ecology and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. His research focuses on the relationship between mortgage borrowing and food insecurity among older adults.
  • Rachel Scrivano, of Westerville, is working toward a Ph.D. in social work at The Ohio State University. Her research is with Food For A Long Life, a community-based intergenerational project that promotes healthy food knowledge in areas where it is difficult to access healthy food. The program increases access to and consumption of healthy food, through education, intergenerational relationships, and food distribution.
  • Tasneem Shalash, of Hilliard, is a senior majoring in social work with a minor in human development and family science at The Ohio State University. Her internship is with the Columbus Free Clinic. She provides resources to underserved individuals and advocates for healthcare reforms and policy affecting older adults.
  • Madison Williams, of Ironton, is a sophomore majoring in health care administration at Shawnee State University. Her internship works with low-income senior housing units throughout Scioto County. She helps older adults exercise daily and adopt a healthy diet.
  • Celeste Ziegler, of Rochester, Pennsylvania, is a senior at Kent State University majoring in human development and family studies, with a concentration in nursing home administration. Her internship is at Crown Center at Laurel Lake in Hudson, Ohio, where she is completing her nursing home administrator-in-training program.

The Ohio Department of Aging partners with the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education to offer the Ohio Scholars in Aging program. The program is for students who are enrolled in an internship or practicum that involves older adults or their caregivers. Since 2013, more than 100 students, representing 15 Ohio colleges and universities, have participated in the program. The program links students’ hands-on experience to aging-related policy at the state level while providing scholars the opportunity to establish career-long professional contacts and gain valuable career knowledge and skills in the field of aging. Visit to learn more.


Printer-Friendly Version