Inside USD

Program at USD Proves Learning Never Gets Old

Monday, June 13, 2011

Learning never gets old. In fact, the University of the Third Age, a life-long learning program for people age 55 and up that takes place on the USD campus, can only improve with age.

“It’s about mind, body and spirit,” said Jodi Waterhouse (pictured), director of corporate and professional programs for USD’s Professional and Continuing Education, who has led University of the Third Age (U3A) for 15 of its 33 years at USD.

She strives to keep it fun, enjoyable and interesting for students, ranging in age between 55-95, to “continue their insatiable hunger for knowledge,” she said.

Held in January and July, the next session takes place July 11-28, Monday through Thursday for three weeks, at USD’s Manchester Executive Conference Center Auditorium. The program offers beginning computer skills workshops, speaker presentations, a field trip and special opportunities. New this session is a chance to participate in a community service project with Feeding America San Diego.

“The varied program presented in each term provides an exceptional learning opportunity of subjects which are both new and stimulating,” said one regular U3A participant. “Whatever the topic: classical music, medical research, foreign language, T’ai Chi exercises, computer skills, recent additions to libraries, science or justice and peace initiatives, and field trips …  the challenge to grow wiser, to meet others with similar interests, and to participate in an exchange of views keeps one healthy and mentally alert.”

The daily program schedule kicks off at 8 a.m. with a 75-minute workshop offering participants the chance to do T’ai Chi Chaun exercises “a moving meditation called the internal martial art” or two different beginning computer learning classes, one for PC users and another for Macintosh users. Following a short coffee break, participants hear two, one-hour presentations from two different speakers with a 15-minute break in between. Each day, with a few exceptions, ends at 11:45 p.m.

For the July session Waterhouse has lined up a speaker schedule with plenty of variety, ranging from topics of spirituality, health, business, sustainability, current events, summer book reading and even a chance to hear stories from Jon Fredericks, grandson of late TV star and music bandleader Lawrence Welk.

Numerous USD faculty and staff, including University Chaplain Fr. Mike White, David Shirk (Political Science Professor/Director of USD’s Trans-Border Institute), Debbie Tahmassebi (Chemistry/Biochemistry Department Chair and Professor), George Reed (SOLES’ Leadership Studies Professor), Michael Catanzaro ‘01, ‘07 (USD’s Director of Sustainability) and Theresa Byrd (University Librarian), are speakers. Two USD alumni, Garry Ridge ’01 (MS Executive Leadership) and Bob O’Connell ’82 (BA, English), are presenters as well as four USD Mechanical Engineering students — Michael Rios, Mou Riiny, Emmett Perl and Enrique Rayon — who will discuss “How Lost Boys of Sudan and Solar Projects Have Come Together” at 9:30 a.m.  on July 28.

The session’s field trip is July 21 as participants will get a behind-the-scenes look at the Institute for Conservation Research at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

In keeping with Waterhouse’s desire to continue finding new ways to tap into the energy among these lifelong learners, a U3A Community Service Day, an optional activity, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on July 29 at Feeding America San Diego. Jennifer Gilmore, executive director of Feeding America San Diego, will be speaking to the group on July 13 on the topic, “The Changing Face of Hunger in San Diego … You Won’t Believe What You Hear.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

The cost per person is $135 before June 22 and $150 after June 22. To learn more about University of the Third Age, contact Jodi Waterhouse at or call (619) 260-4231. To register, click here.

  • Share/Bookmark