Program proves learning is ageless

July 28, 2008 3:58:35 PM PDT
Some senior citizens are taking college classes. Taking them not for credit, but just for the love of it. The subject is American history. And the students have witnessed quite a bit of history, since they are all past the age of retirement.

Senior citizens are offered a wide variety of college level courses as part of a partnership between City College and the organization known as "Quest."

"It's kind of almost like a gymnasium for your brain," Quest president Howard Salik said. "You know, it keeps that brain working all the time."

No one benefits more than Ruth Proskauer-Smith, who will turn 101 years old this summer.

"It is just, being here that has, I think kept me going as strongly and vitally as I am now," she said. "Otherwise I would be a couch potato."

There are about 130 students. They pay $500 a year to take as many classes as they choose. They do not receive college credit, but they feel they get much more.

"I find it very stimulating to sit in and learn history, the arts, languages, theater," participant Marc Deitch said. "It's just terrific, things I never had exposure to...So it really fulfills a lot of things that I enjoy doing."

Quest members who feel so inclined can also teach in the program. Beverly Francus teaches a course in the study of major playwrights.

"I mean, you get intellectual stimulation from our group," she said. "You get socialization, which is great for many people who are retired and don't know what to do with themselves."

The ranks of the retired will grow as baby boomers retire, and those behind the Quest program fully expect more members. It is all based on the idea that no matter how old you are, there is no such thing as having learned all there is to learn.

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STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Art McFarland.