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Elderly students welcomed back to the SDSU campus

There was a welcome back for some students at San Diego State University Friday. They’re not your typical college students.

Many of them are retirement age and determined to keep learning.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers classes in partnership with San Diego State, which has been designated an Age-Friendly University. It’s a designation given to only about 80 campuses across the country that educate the elderly.


“I’m 78 and a half and proud of it,” said Carol Rainey, who has been taking classes on campus for the past 10 years. Rainey is a widow and mother of three daughters and has nine grandchildren.

She raised her family with the belief that school does not end just because you have a college degree. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education that she earned at Brooklyn College in New York City in 1964.

She relocated to San Diego 25 years ago to be with her family.

“I’ve taken music classes, philosophy classes, literature, history, movies and just about everything, including Chidokan!” she said. Chidokan is a form of karate offered along with other athletic activities.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency estimates that one in four San Diegans will be 60 or older by 2030.


According to the county, the number of San Diegans over 65 years old will double.

Speaking at the welcome-back event Friday, SDSU President Adela de la Torre said she had prioritized this population.

“It's diverse, not only in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status,” de la Torre said, “and we want to be cutting-edge in that demographic as well.”

The classes offered by the Osher Institute partnership cost in the range of about $100. Scholarships are available to students who need them.

Melanie Dunn is an Osher board member and student.

“The curriculum is not only intellectually stimulating — it’s a great social opportunity to meet a lot of people and do things together," Dunn said. "They are people who are not just sitting around at home doing nothing.”

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at SDSU offers classes in both the fall and spring semesters.

KPBS is a service of San Diego State University.