Wellness Series

On behalf of Sigma Phi Omega Gerontology Honor Society at California State University, Fullerton, we would like to share with you some of the events we have held since the beginning of the semester. Our goal this semester is to present the seven wellness series by lining up presenters who are professionals in each sector.

The first event was held 9/7/2017 and during the presentation, Jake Greenberg CFP, ChFC, AIF:

  • Discussed the three types of retirement accounts students may use while planning for retirement (Roth IRA, Non-retirement Accounts, & Tax Deferred Accounts)
  • Described the most common mistakes made by soon to be retirees when planning for retirement
  •  Shared the shocking news that the biggest expense for retirees is taxes
  • Explained that a little investment over a long period of time goes a long way to making older adults more secure in their retirement

At the end of the event, each student was able to inquire about retirement investment strategies and available resources for the older population. This information can be crucial as you pursue your future careers in gerontology or in a gerontology-related field.

The second event was held 9/18/2017 and during the presentation, Mariana, MA, CMI:

  • Explained the history of yoga and different forms of yoga practice
  • Spoke about the importance of yoga and meditation
  • Presented case studies in which meditation was shown to be effective in maintaining and building upon memories
  • Reduced anxieties and promoted peace and calm
  • Demonstrated simple yoga moves and guided the students in a five-minute meditation exercise

At the end of the event, students asked various questions pertaining to the benefits of yoga and meditation for improved cognition. This information is important since the aging process is often accompanied by brain mass atrophy. Continued practice of yoga and meditation exercises have been effective in decreasing the rate of atrophy!

Careers in Aging 2017

On April 5, 2017, at York College of Pennsylvania, the Omega Chapter of SPO sponsored an awesome Careers in Aging event. We invited students, members of the OLLI at Penn State York, and professionals in aging-related careers to a film screening of the inspiring documentary Age of Champions. An OLLI participant led us in a lively discussion afterward the film concluded. Then we played a game of modified BINGO– a mixer that got everyone interacting with one another. We finished by awarding the gold, silver, and bronze medals to the BINGO winners and concluded by singing the national anthem together (think Olympics). It was really a fun evening. More than 70 people participated. Of those, eight students expressed interest in joining SPO. Everyone gained 1) an understanding of the diversity of careers in aging, 2) an appreciation for working with elders, and 3) a healthy dose of good times.

Getting More Out of Your Education with Gamma Upsilon

Members of Gamma Upsilon, the University of Massachusetts Boston chapter of Sigma Phi Omega, comprise all level of students from those pursing a certificate in gerontology, Masters in Aging Services, and PhD. The officers of Gamma Upsilon for the 2016-2017 academic year are:

President: Natalie Pitheckoff

Vice President: Molly Evans

Secretary/Treasurer: Bryceton Proctor

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Kyungmin Kim

In an effort to increase our impact, Gamma Upsilon will be hosting more events and activities on and off campus. We have already started this year off strong by organizing a restaurant fundraiser on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association. The restaurant fundraiser was held at the 99 Restaurant in Quincy, MA on September 14, 2016 from 4:00 to 10:00 pm. Around 25 people attended the event.

Monthly observances around issues that impact older adults or the field of gerontology began to be selected in October. Every month the name of the observance, facts, statistics, diagrams, and infographs on the topic have been displayed in the PhD lounge and window facing the hallway. So far, October was long-term care planning month, November was national caregiver month, and December is world AIDS month. This activity raises awareness of topics/issues that might not be fully addressed in our courses. It also creates an opportunity for conversation and has the potential to educate both those within the University of Massachusetts Boston gerontology community and those passing by.

Other exciting events are being planned for the rest of the year. For example, an intergenerational movie matinee will be co-hosted between the Osher Lifelong Learning Center and Gamma Upsilon in January. As of now, we are planning to show The Intern followed by a robust conversation on work and volunteering in later life. A professor with research experience in those areas will be selected as a discussant.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s

            Over the summer, Gamma Upsilon began planning, fundraising, and recruiting individuals to participate in the 2016 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The walk was held on the morning of Sunday, September 25th at the North Point Park in Cambridge, MA. Our small but mighty group of around 10 people represented the University of Massachusetts Boston at the walk. Our group completed the 3.5 mile course in support of the millions of older Americans afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. In addition to walking, we were able to donate over $2,100 to the MA/New Hampshire chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Gerontological Society of America Conference

26 students including Gamma Upsilon members from the University of Massachusetts Boston presented at the 69th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) in New Orleans, LA. Some topics included oral health, transportation, social engagement, and healthy aging. Several members of Gamma Upsilon also assisted at the university booth where conference attendees could stop by and learn more about the gerontology programs offered through the University of Massachusetts Boston. Prior to attending the conference, Gamma Upsilon sponsored a “practice day” event for students to present their posters and presentations to faculty members, researchers, and students of the gerontology, public policy. and nursing departments. With posters lined along the halls of the department, Gamma Upsilon offered pizza and drinks to all attendees.





Keeping Busy @ CSULB

     The beginning of Fall 2016 semester marked a new chapter for our Gerontology Student Organization. With Miriam Henan passing the presidential gavel to Gabriela Sedano and with a new Directory Board in place, our Sigma Phi Omega (SPO) members kept busy with interesting activities.
In September we met and proposed the semestrial agenda, as well as we held our first general meeting for the academic year of 2016-2017. In October we were busy securing Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) traveling funds for our members to attend the California Council on Gerontology and Geriatrics (CCGG) 36th Annual Meeting in Sacramento. At CCGG Annual Meeting our SPO- Delta Eta Chapter members united forces and presented in poster format the positive impact our Gerontology Student Organization has over our community. October month also brought the opportunity to advocate for a noble cause: “Walk-to-End Alzheimer’s”! We marched in Long Beach, CA and raised awareness to our community about the devastating effects Alzheimer’s disorder can bring to our families and to our communities.
Then, in November we joined the CSULB Homecoming where we reminded our community that CSULB is an age friendly campus and that we have programs focusing on successful aging such as Gerontology Program, Osher Life Learning Institute (OLLI), and the Center for Successful Aging.
And in December, besides stressing over the final exams, we make sure we keep as priority those in needs. This year we partnered up with a local community organization called HOPE to reach hearts in desperate need by collecting canned food, socks, and blankets for what we like to call Mexico Outreach event. And speaking about December… We would like to wish you all a joyous and happy holiday season filled with magical moments!

SPO’s First International Chapter – New Beginnings

The Alpha Delta chapter became part of the SPO family as of May 2016. They are the first international chapter located in Akdeniz University in Antalya, Turkey.

New members share, “Alpha Delta is meaningful to us in that alpha, means ‘first’ and delta means ‘change’. Given our status as the first SPO chapter in Turkey as well as outside of the US, we hope to encourage new beginnings in our own country and beyond in the name of SPO.”


The first SPO member induction ceremony was performed on September 30, 2016. Pictured (back row, left to right) Hatice Karakaş, Aslı Çıtak, Türkan Yılmaz (faculty), Elif Güngör, Tuğba Bahar, Bengisu Belirdi, Sevim Arınç, Seda Kocabıyık, (front row, left to right) Emine Kaya, Yıldıray Özbek (Dean), Jason Holdsworth (faculty), Özgür Arun (faculty), Mert Ersözlü, (members & members elect not pictured: Hüseyin Recepoğlu, Çağrı Elmas, Sanem Çetin, Hatice U. Baydemir, Halil İmancıoğlu, Nil Meral, Tunahan Yakar)

The first task of the chapter was to translate the SPO By-Laws into Turkish, which have since undergone some minor revisions. All members are encouraged to be actively engaged in at least one of their three working groups, namely a project, social media, and newsletter group.

The first project undertaken during the fall 2016 term is “1 semester 1 library” (the name is more catchy in Turkish!). Chapter members have each purchased a book (total of 14 books) on topics and genres including Russian, Scandinavian, African, Iranian, English, American, and Turkish Literature, and well as at least two poetry books, a novel, a children’s book, and at least one book by a woman author. One book is being given out per week throughout the fall term to a newly enrolled gerontology student who rated gerontology as their first choice of study in the national university application process. Additionally, the project group is presently planning to do a service project in a village in their province as well as preparing to apply for funding from the European Union to construct a portable time tunnel representing the lifestyles of various age cohorts in Turkey during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. If the project is accepted for funding, it will be carried out in the name of the Alpha Delta SPO chapter and the SPO members will provide oversight. The goal is to enable today’s youth, in particular, to engage with representatives of youth from decades past via the time tunnel ‘festival’ in several different locations around Turkey. Be sure to look out for details in the upcoming newsletter.

Alpha Delta’s social media group has established the following accounts: Twitter: SPO Alpha Delta @spoakdeniz and email: spoakdeniz@gmail.com . The goal through social media is to share our activities in SPO Alpha Delta. Take a look at what they are up to on Twitter via SPO Alpha Delta @spoakdeniz . Should you decide to make Antalya (otherwise known as the Turkish Riviera) a destination for research or vacation, look them up!

“The Alpha Delta Chapter also wishes to congratulate their own Assoc. Prof. Dr. Özgür Arun on being selected as the 2017 recipient of the AGHE Rising Star Early Career Faculty Award.”

Delta Eta Filling in the GAPS

The Delta Eta chapter has been hard at work in spreading the exciting news of the field of Gerontology on the California State University Long Beach campus, as well as throughout surrounding communities. We have offered our members opportunities in serving the community, conference scholarships, general meetings with a speaker series, thesis/ study sessions, social events, fundraising as well as, end of the year banquets.

The Delta Eta chapter has been very active in the community. In Fall 2015, the Delta Eta chapter participated in three Alzheimer’s walks and raised $520 for the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition to this,we teamed up with Volunteer Action on Aging to deliver Thanksgiving meals to needy elderly all over the Los Angeles area. SPO: Delta Eta Chapter did not stop there, as we also asked members and the community to donate socks to the well known organization, Socks for Seniors. We were astonished at the participation of the campus community in donating over 100 pairs of new socks to warm the feet of less fortunate elderly and were delivered in time for the Holidays! SPO: Delta Eta also partnered with PATHS and USC in their “80-20” event where students in their 20’s have dinner with older adults age 80 and up. Our most proud moments, however, was the outreach we set out to do with high school students. SPO: Delta Eta visited Lawndale high school to hold a two hour workshop with 150 students on the field of aging. This was a huge success and we are still in contact with the students and older adults we met at these great events. Currently, SPO has teamed up with St. George church (Bellflower, CA) to raise money for homeless veterans; proceeds go to purchase moving blankets to pass out throughout this cold winter season. Our efforts have managed to purchase over 200 blankets for this neglected population.

Aside from community outreach, all year long, SPO Delta Eta has offered 5 general meetings a semester with a very strong speaker series. Speakers from different fields speak to our members on the importance of the field of aging. Thus far we have had older adults, care managers, an estate planning attorney, a long term care planner, geriatrician as well as a commissioner from the California Commission on Aging. All speakers have shed important light on the field of aging bringing with them many perspectives and teaching our members, gerontology is everywhere. Throughout the academic year SPO continues to hold thesis and study sessions as well as team up with See’s candy to fundraise for the organization. To date, SPO: Delta Eta has raised $700 that goes straight to the organization. The Delta Eta chapter has doubled its active membership and attends conferences as a group, still leaving time for monthly socials and promotion of the organization. The 2015-2016 academic year has been quite successful and we look forward to continued success!

Bottled Water Drive for Flint, MI

As the news of the water problems in Flint, MI came to light, the Gamma Mu chapter of Sigma Phi Omega decided to do something to support the residents of Flint, MI. Partnering with the Health Colleges Student Diversity Services, the Student Public Health Association and the Social Justice Advocacy Group at the University of Kentucky, a bottled water drive was held for the month of February. Bottled water donations were received at different locations on campus and then taken to Flint, MI on February 27th.


Successful Pet Food Drive for Meals On Wheels Recipients

The Alpha Phi chapter held its 3rd annual drive for food for pets of individuals who receive services from Monroe County Meals on Wheels. This year, we put real photos of the pets and descriptions in the entry way to a campus building. Individuals could take cards and buy food for specific pets. We had an amazing response and delivered 68 cans of dog food, 272 cans of cat food, 96 pounds of dry dog food, and 57 pounds of dry cat food. This allows individuals who either can’t access pet food or can’t afford it to keep their pets longer.

In the photo – Katelyn Clancy, chapter president; Stacy Koeck, administrative assistant for Monroe County Meals on Wheels; Elaine Shuey, chapter advisor; Julie Rehrig, chapter vice-president; and Alyssa Dinko, chapter member. The dog, Fitz Clancy, was a bit overwhelmed by it all.

Walking to End Alzheimer’s Disease

At York College of Pennsylvania, the Omega Gamma Chapter of SPO formed a team for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease which occurred on October 10, 2015. The team set their sights high! They set out to raise at least 2,000 dollars and to recruit at least 10 team members. The Walk is designed to raise awareness and funds which are used for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The York College team really got behind the cause– they recruited 19 team members and raised 2, 690 dollars. Way to go SPO!

Growth, Leadership & Service

The spring 2015 semester for the Upsilon Chapter at the University of South Florida has been a time of growth, commitment, leadership and service for our members. As many of our past officers graduated and moved on to different pursuits, our chapter was faced with the challenge of officer transition for all leadership roles. We continued past traditions of monthly general body meetings, representing our chapter and recruiting new members during the Careers in Aging Networking Event and volunteering, while adding new traditions to create a more meaningful, richer heritage for current members. Our chapter is actively holding weekly socials, including attending sporting events, spinning, dining, bowling and a house party potluck to celebrate our participation and fundraising milestones in University of South Florida’s Relay for Life, a philanthropic event that raises awareness and funds for The American Cancer Society. Additionally, we are volunteering weekly at a local nursing home where we interact with residents in a variety of activities. Recently we helped them decorate for a themed Wizard of Oz party and we are having an upcoming bingo game planned with donated prizes. Many of our members have an interest in working with individuals with dementia. We have planned a special spring visit with our advisor to Arden Courts Memory Care, a small assisted living facility specializing in dementia and memory care, to take residents outside, give them flowers, and sing. We are especially excited about the privilege of proposing a crest for the Sigma Phi Omega National Honor Society and have been collaborating our ideas on how to make each element as special and significant as being a part of this society has been for the Upsilon Chapter. Submitted by: Nina S. Dearwater