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|PROFESSOR BRENDA SANDERS
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
|Teaching the Young About the Old|
|By Leah Nadeau|
"A much larger portion of the population loves children, but I have always liked older people. When I took my first gerontology class as an undergrad, I walked in and thought 'Oh, this is great!'"sociology professor Brenda Sanders said.
"Gerontology borrows from sociology, psychology, biology, religion and political science. I get to do a little bit of everything."Sanders said.
A self-proclaimed "military brat," Sanders grew up moving from city to city every three years. She attended Baylor University in Waco, Tex. for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees, and received her master's degree in the science of gerontology.
Sanders came to College of Charleston in 1995, and teaches such classes as, Introduction to Sociology, Aging and the Family, and Social Gerontology. She also serves as the gerontology internship coordinator for the sociology department.
"I focus on internships and service learning and facilitating my students actually being out and working with parts of the older population,"Sanders said. "When I originally started in the field of gerontology I thought I would be working with older people. It never occurred to me that I would be teaching younger people about working with older people."
Sanders is currently working with a student who serves as an intern for a geriatric care manager. "This student gets to see all the different angles of gerontology,"Sanders said. "The student gets to go and actually talk to older people in their homes and also arranges for the resources they may need in the community."
McSavaney added that Sanders has a way of teaching gerontology that makes it different from other sociology classes. "The way Professor Sanders teaches the class, it allows you to see the realness of gerontology by looking at the big picture, rather than just looking at it from a purely academic standpoint by reading textbooks," she said. "Professor Sanders is not only immensely passionate about gerontology, but she is also so educated about it, and you can tell."
Sanders says the most rewarding aspect of her job is that she gets to inspire students to pursue careers in her field. "I now have several former students that discovered a passion for gerontology when I taught them. Many of them are now employed in Charleston in the aging network, and supervise interns that I advise," she said.
Sanders says that progressions and advancements in gerontology occur frequently because it is a multi-disciplinary field. However, she says that a significant milestone in her field is happening soon, which she expects to change the way society thinks about aging.
"The biggest thing that is about to happen starting next year is the first of the baby boomers turning 65," Sanders said. "It is something that always seemed far off, but now, here we are with the first of the 80 million baby boomers beginning to reach retirement age."
Although Sanders works closely with the elderly community, she also experiences aging from a different perspective. Sanders is the proud mother of two children, ages 4 and 2. "I have a lot of age diversity in my daily life," Sanders joked.