posted October 6, 2021 - written by Molly Rutter, (former) SOE Graduate Assistant
“There are a lot of myths and misperceptions about age and aging, so dispelling these and helping improve the quality of life of older adults through education is my mission. “
At the time of her enrollment into Buffalo State’s Adult Education master’s program, Kelsey Harvey had been working for the Alzheimer’s Association as their Director of Education and Training. She wanted to improve her skills as an educator.
“I did not have a background in education, just subject matter expertise, and Buffalo State’s Adult Education program was a great fit for what I was seeking,” she said, “Although online, I loved how social the adult education classes were. Our discussions were engaging and I became very close with many classmates despite our geographical differences.”
Harvey, a native of Greece, NY, greatly benefitted from the courses she took, saying that she still refers to her notes and readings from those classes on a regular basis. She was greatly influenced by Susan Birden, former chair, and Andrea Nikischer, associate professor and program coordinator.
“Dr. Birden and Dr. Nikischer were very supportive of my desire to continue my studies and often gave me valuable advice on my work and career path,” she said.
Harvey’s current docoral thesis research builds on the work she started as a student at Buffalo State where she studied educational gerontology in a research methods course. She is now investigating the educative role of exercise instructors who work with older adults.
“My master’s degree in Adult Education laid the groundwork for my current success and opened doors for me to continue on with my studies. I still draw on the same literature that we read in the introductory courses in the Adult Education curricula.”
Passionate about gerontology and teaching, Harvey is currently in her final year as a Ph.D. candidate at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. As a constructivist and critical educator, she thinks that experiential education and respect for marginalized ways of knowing are vital. She often employs simulations, case studies, discussions, and arts-based methods in the classroom. After completing her Ph.D. program, Harvey hopes to teach full-time at a university and to provide an excellent education for those working in the field.
“There are a lot of myths and misperceptions about age and aging, so dispelling these and helping improve the quality of life of older adults through education is my mission. I did this for some time in community education, which was a richly rewarding field, but now I’ve turned my attention to academia, so that the next generations of professional caregivers can start off with the best gerontological education possible.”
In addition to working as a part-time lecturer at the University at Buffalo, University of Guelph, and McMaster University, Harvey works as a student partner with the MacPherson Institute at McMaster University, as part of their course refinement team to facilitate/conduct midterm course evaluations, and works as a research assistant for her advisor, Meridith Griffin.
Specifically in her field now, Harvey is interested in political participation by older adults and intergenerational conflict regarding policies related to healthcare and the economy.
Understanding the potential for burnout in her field, Harvey stresses the importance of self-care. She volunteers as a fitness and yoga instructor at her local YMCA and, when faced with challenges, she maintains a positive outlook and uses them as an opportunity to grow and learn.
As for advice to future teachers, Harvey says, “Remember what it is like to be on the receiving end of the educative experience and continue to take courses, not just for the content, but to examine the ways in which other teachers approach education.”
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