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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Mature Learner Meet & Greet series caters to older students

‘They don’t really feel connected socially to other students’
Adult+learners+networking+at+the+Mature+Students+Meet+%26+Greet+Lunch%2C+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+19.+The+event+was+the+fourth+in+a+series+with+the+intent+of+helping+mature+students+build+connections+on+campus.++%28Photo+courtesy+of+Catheryn+Koss%29
Adult learners networking at the Mature Students Meet & Greet Lunch, Tuesday, Sept. 19. The event was the fourth in a series with the intent of helping mature students build connections on campus. (Photo courtesy of Catheryn Koss)

Approximately one in 10 Sacramento State students are 30 years old or over, according to the 2022 Sac State Fact Book

Gerontology Professor Catheryn Koss, with a grant from University Enterprises Incorporated, has organized a series of Mature Students Meet & Greet events for older students.

“This was just an attempt to try to carve out a little bit of space on campus where you would walk in, and it’s your space,” Koss said. “Everybody in that room is going through similar things as you are, and you can really connect.”

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Koss originally applied for the grant after discussing the feelings of adult learners.

“I interviewed a couple of older students for the ‘Building Justice’ podcast about a year ago, and they were talking about some of the challenges of feeling like they really belong on campus,” Koss said. “They show up in class and people think they’re the professor or they don’t really feel connected socially to other students.”

Koss said she hoped the grant would facilitate adult learners promoting their needs on campus.

“Students can move forward with it, get together and feel like they have a space to meet each other and perhaps even advocate for better programs and services that meet their needs on campus,” Koss said.

Michelle Silva, a senior gerontology major, echoed the feeling of wanting an inclusive space for adult learners to interact with one another and discuss things that are relevant to them.

“It’s like if you had naturally green hair, and nobody else had ever had green hair and you always felt like an outsider. Then you found a club that specialized in green hair,” Silva said. “I think it would make you feel good, there are others out there who are going through the same things I am.”

Koss said that while the events are advertised for older students, everyone is welcome to attend.

“Anyone who feels like they want to connect with other students is welcome to come, there’s no age limit,” Koss said. “It’s for folks who may feel a little out of sync with the other students around them and want to make friends and support each other.”

Koss and Silva are in the process of establishing The Adult Learners Club with Silva set to become the club’s first president.

“One thing that’s kind of coming out of these events is that a group of students is starting to organize a club so that these events can continue after this semester when the grant runs out,” Koss said.

Tina White, a junior criminal justice major, echoed the feeling of being in a different space in life than her classmates.

“I kind of always feel like a mother figure, reminding and maybe prompting to do some things that maybe aren’t being done just to help them,” White said.

Silva also said she sometimes felt like campus services were not as prepared for the concerns and questions of adult learners, one example is an experience she described with a student employee in the financial aid office.

“I had asked them some questions about taxes, and they understood it but sometimes I think they don’t understand me, the older student,” Silva said. “Not that it would make any difference, you know, whether you’re 20, or 50 with taxes.”

Koss said she has a list of 160 people who had expressed interest in either the event series or the Adult Learners Club and that 40 people attended the September event.

“That’s something this club can work on is working with the administration and faculty to really have a voice for students,” Koss said. “Here’s how you can help older students succeed.”

The next event is Tuesday, Oct. 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Cottonwood Suite III at the University Union.

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About the Contributor
Michael Pepper, News Staffer
(he/him/they/them) Michael Pepper is a senior transfer student majoring in journalism. He previously attended Cosumnes River College where he was a staff writer and sports editor for The Connection. This is his second semester with The State Hornet.
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