Many Ages of Wisdom
Osher Foundation Re-entry scholar Laurie Palmer with her late mother, Helen Sullivan, who had Alzheimer's disease. Palmer's care for her solidified a professional interest in working with the elderly.
It offers annual scholarships of $5,000 each to ten students between the ages of 25 and 50 who are working toward their first baccalaureate degree after interrupting studies for five or more years.
Those criteria perfectly matched Palmer’s history. Forced by finances to leave Boston State College after earning an associate’s degree some 25 years ago, she worked in a variety of community service jobs—from children’s day care to elderly services—but never gave up on a goal of completing her intellectual and professional development.
Despite subsequent responsibilities as a wife and mother raising three children—now 11, 14, and 17—the Scituate native is even more devoted to what she calls “improving social conditions.” To do so most effectively, Palmer, 47, plans to earn a BA in human services and ultimately an MA in counseling.
Building on her parental and caregiving experiences, Palmer has developed a business proposal for an instructional program designed to help professionals cope with many challenges they face in assisting social development from infancy to end of life.
Now taking three courses in gerontology at UMass Boston, Palmer says, “The Osher Reentry Scholarship brought together a golden thread of my life experiences. I had a basic blueprint, but this program has completed the pattern for me in a very exciting way.”
Osher Foundation founder and treasurer Bernard Osher says, “We look for outstanding universities that serve their communities in meaningful ways—with special attention to meeting the needs of reentry students and older adults eager to participate in ‘lifelong learning.’ UMass Boston is just such an institution, and we are proud to support it.”
In addition to the Reentry Scholarship Program, the grant to UMass Boston also provides endowment for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), based in the Gerontology Institute at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies. OLLI allows adults 50 and over to enroll in more than 70 non-credit courses on topics ranging from global studies to negotiating skills to poetry.