This fall semester, MiraCosta College’s youngest full-time student to date, 13-year-old Kyle Litzenberg, began taking classes. You may have read about Kyle in the San Diego Union-Tribune. MiraCosta is also honored to have many students who are well over 65 years of age, like 68-year-old Gloria Ryan and her husband, 88-year-old Denis Ryan.
Gloria and Denis are just two of the dozens of senior citizens who take advantage of MiraCosta College's Community Learning Center noncredit classes. After living in Orange County for 16 years, the couple moved last year to a one-story house in Oceanside to accommodate Denis’ Parkinson’s disease.
“When we were in Orange County, we took many classes through the community college,” Gloria said. “When we moved to Oceanside, we knew to look for classes here too and found MiraCosta College.”
The duo began taking classes in balance, mobility and body conditioning – both taught by Linda Hargrove. These classes have helped them to stay active and both say they have been thrilled with the results.
“Linda lets you work at your own pace,” Denis said. “She has us listen to our bodies and if we experience any pain, she has us stop. But she also challenges us and keeps us moving. It’s great.”
Denis, a former athlete, loves that the classes keep him fit even with his illness, which makes it hard for him to stand up straight and balance.
Gloria says students in class have commented about what an inspiration Denis is and commended him for doing everything his body can handle.
“The Ryans’ dedication to improving their strength, flexibility, endurance and balance is inspiring,” Hargrove said. “Seeing them improve and hearing what a difference it makes in their daily lives is a joy.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, older students are one of the fastest growing educational demographics. Studies show that continuing education, even well beyond the traditional retirement age, can help preserve one’s mental and physical health.
MiraCosta’s interim superintendent/president, Dr. Richard Robertson, agrees.
“In my opinion, it is essential to update one’s knowledge and skill set continuously. Learning should not end when formal education is completed. Senior citizens, of which I am one, are wise to keep mind and body active. The bottom line is that learning should never stop, minds should never be closed, and knowledge is power.”
Offering various programs and classes to older adults is not new at MiraCosta. Over the last five years, there have been a total of 6,200 seniors, 65 years of age and older, who have enrolled for credit and noncredit classes at the college. In 2014, the top credit classes taken by senior citizens are beginning yoga, figure painting, water-based media, printmaking and computer basics. For noncredit classes, several of the popular choices are music appreciation, balance and mobility, watercolor painting, basic drawing and body conditioning.
“These classes are such a wonderful gift and great service to the community,” said Gloria. “Programs like these are beneficial to the whole community, not just to older people, but everyone benefits from them.”
In addition to programs and classes, MiraCosta also offers the Learning is for Everyone (LIFE) program. LIFE is designed especially for seniors in North San Diego County, and meets on most Friday afternoons on both the Oceanside Campus and the San Elijo Campus in Cardiff. LIFE offers discussion groups and guest speakers, and is a wonderful way to stay engaged through learning. For a schedule of speakers and more information on how to get involved, click here.
Visit the MiraCosta website for more information about noncredit programs or call 760.795.8710. Many noncredit courses are free for those who qualify. For more information on credit classes and to apply, go to miracosta.edu/apply or call the Admissions & Records Office at 760.795.6620. Cost is just $46 per credit unit for California residents.