Owensboro Community & Technical College provided their developmental psychology students with the literal assignment of lifetime this week. Students reviewed the lives of seniors in the community and the lessons they learned along the way.
In 10 different groups, students were tasked with learning about how the brain and human body develop over a complete life. After a semester of meeting with their senior each week, they learned in a different way than professor Mary Kinney would have expected.
“This is a very application phase of psychology, especially for developmental psychology, and my students dove all the way in. There are parts of developmental psychology that I’m supposed to cover with them and I’m sure they don’t want to listen to me lecture every day,” Kinney said.
Students were appreciative of the experience, as they learned about living through the Civil Rights movement, traveling the world, having families, and everything in between.
Students Lillie Self-Miller, Lance Burdette, and Oakley Pollard were partnered with 92-year-old Mae Banks — who had lived a lot of life, in their eyes.
Looking over her life, Banks said she had the most fun telling them about her younger years since things have changed drastically, which challenged the students to evaluate the current things they do.
“I can remember what I did as a youngster, but I can’t remember what I did last week, but this isn’t something that happens all the time,” Banks said. “I’m just thankful that the Lord has let me live this long and I really adored getting to know these kids.”
And while the assignment called for learning about the different stages of adulthood, the students came out with more lessons.
Through the story of Banks, they said they learned the importance of taking things slowly, being able to detach from devices, and being deliberate and intentional about everything.
But most importantly to them was the importance of resiliency.
“I saw how (Banks is) such a strong, resilient woman. She’s gone through so much and listening to her and how she got there, it was amazing,” Self-Miller said.
As a final chapter of the project, the groups made their seniors a scrapbook of all of the memories that were discussed. The seniors were presented with the book at the final meeting, leaving some emotional as they looked back at everything.
“I’m anxious to get home and sit back and look at every page, and this won’t be the last time I look at it,” Banks said.
Becky Barnhart, Director of the Owensboro Daviess County Senior Center, said that seeing the joy on both the students’ and the seniors’ faces is the part that makes the whole project worth it.
“We definitely want to keep doing it, because you hear some of these students say they enjoyed it and that makes it special,” Barnhart said.
The project occurs every semester and it is open to seniors in the community. To have a chance to get involved on the senior side, Barnhart said to contact her and other members of the Senior Center.