Program teaches baby boomers new tricks

The “U’s” LearningLife program encourages continuing education after retirement.

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, Aloida Zaragoza sits in the front row of the personal and family finance lecture in Borlaug Hall. At the end of the day, the 48-year-old University employee goes home to her 10- year-old son.

LearningLife, a University program starting Dec. 1, plans to inspire people of Zaragoza’s age to continue their education.

The program will allow baby boomers to attend seminars and workshops about topics such as finance, gardening and environment.

Director of LearningLife Andrea Gilats said the program will be successful because baby boomers are at a place in their lives where they have time to learn.

The program, which is under the College of Continuing Education, will make the University more relevant to older generations, Gilats said.

“The beauty of LearningLife is that we can serve as a catalyst between University faculty and the public,” Gilats said.

Jerry Allan, a former University professor, is giving a keynote speech at the program’s kickoff event in December.

Allan said it’s important for the University to realize that baby boomers still have a lot to contribute to society.

The program will be fulfilling to participants who don’t want to spend the second half of their life in quiet retirement, Allan said.

“For some baby boomers, just fishing every day may not be enough,” he said.

Allan will be heading the program’s “Five Great Ideas the World Needs” sessions.

The idea behind the sessions is for baby boomers to collaborate on some of the major issues the world is facing, Allan said.

Zaragoza, a University staffer, said she attends classes at the University for personal benefit.

As a mother, Zaragoza said she believes financial planning is important to her family’s future, and she hadn’t learned about it in the past.

“Retirement is just another stage that we have to discover in educating ourselves,” Zaragoza said.

Zaragoza said she encourages people to continue learning even after college.

“There are a lot of resources inside and outside of the University for community (education) or re-education,” Zaragoza said. “I encourage it just because it makes a better citizenry.”

Jesse Vega, a 53-year-old employee with the Office of Human Resources, takes classes at the University as well. Vega said he thinks people of different generations can learn from each other in classes.

“I think that, given that someone older of a different generation has a lot of experience, that they could bring to a classroom and share and also learn about the younger generations,” he said.

As an employee, Vega said he feels he has more opportunity for education than many other people of different generations.

Vega said while he is in favor of the program, the University needs to offer more credit courses that are accessible to baby boomers.

“I think it’s a new endeavor for the University,” Vega said. “The University has not really reached out for credit courses in general to the older generation, I guess other than trying to entice them to the complete scholar or other noncredit avenues.”