By Andria Barrios
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is an organization based out of the University of South Florida (USF) designed specifically for older citizens who are still hungry for knowledge and growth. Founded 22 years ago, it has now expanded to partner with 25 different locations across the community, including retirement homes, churches, museums and schools.
“We motivate them to keep moving and not shut down,” said Joseph McAuliffe, educational programmer for the organization as well as history teacher at USF. Osher is directed mainly to citizens 55 years and older who are still young at heart. “We prod them not to give up on life,” he explained.
The program teaches college level courses with little homework, grades or tests involved. They are primarily daytime classes held weekly for about two hours, and span over three semesters per year, similar to a typical college schedule. Over 300 classes are taught per year, with intriguing course titles like “Understanding Memory Loss,” “Economics of Modern Investing,” “Making Emails Easier” and “Introduction to Conversational Italian.”
Some titles like “World Religion” are similar to those typically taught at USF and other colleges, while other courses like “iPhone Part I for Beginners” are directed specifically to aging seniors.
Teachers consist of about 300 retired faculty volunteers. For this reason, tuition is kept very low. A typical class costs around $40 including books. Discounts are added if more than one class is taken. Annual membership for the program cost is $35. Though some scholarships are offered, these courses are not taken in order to obtain jobs or degrees, but simply out of a love for learning.
Facilities where classes are held include the Brandon Senior Center, Jewish Community Center, Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa Museum of Art and many others such as libraries, HCC campuses, theaters and clubs.
“This is a gold mine for the community that many don’t know about,” McAuliffe said. “It creates happy and healthy senior citizens, builds relationships, introduces them to the modern world they live in and fosters a zest for life.”
For more information or, visit www.usfseniors.org or call 974-5166. To register, call at 974-2403, ext. 1.