The Adult Scholars Leadership Program at UNCW
This guest post was submitted by Barbara Clouse. Have an idea for us? Email your suggestion or article to Allison.
When I discovered the Adult Scholars Leadership Program (ASLP) offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute through UNCW, it was a revelation. I sometimes felt overwhelmed by the changes in Wilmington and the area: what does it all mean, what issues do we face, how can I make an impact?
ASLP helped me navigate the dizzying change. Through the program, I met and learned from important decisionmakers and officials I never would have had access to otherwise. I interacted with the district attorney, county commissioners, city planners, the Wilmington police chief, the New Hanover County Sheriff, administrators from Cape Fear Community College and UNCW, school principals, the CEO of New Hanover Regional Medical Center, local television news anchors, radio personalities, newspaper reporters, museum directors, the conductor of the Wilmington Orchestra, local environmentalists—and more! Every lesson was both exhilarating and informative.
ASLP’s goal is to encourage seniors to learn about their community and take an active roll in it. Anyone interested can enroll in the session. During the course, which includes six classes, participants listen to speakers, ask questions, and interact with their classmates—classmates who end up becoming friends.
I found that even though much important discussion was occurring on weighty matters, the atmosphere was still friendly and inviting. Participants learned from each other and laughed.
Also, because so many representatives from area agencies and organizations presented at the program, I learned of volunteer opportunities (such as at various food pantries and WHQR) and worthy organizations to join (such as The League of Women Voters and River Watch).
It turns out, I am not alone in my enthusiasm. Since 1991, there have been over 500 alumni from the ASLP and we remain connected through an Alumni group that has monthly meetings with interesting local speakers. In October, for example, we heard a member of the Wilmington Planning Commission, who spoke about future transportation plans for the area. The group also takes trips to locations around the area, such as the Food Bank of Central and Southeastern North Carolina and the Wilson Performing Arts Center.
Truthfully, going into the program, I thought I knew quite a bit about the Wilmington area, but by the time I completed the program, I realized I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did! Today I feel empowered to make a difference in the Cape Fear region. I feel as though I have the connections and network with other activists. As Ed DeMarco, another graduate of the program explains, “You can’t really understand the makings of a community until you meet that community’s decision-makers.”
To say that the program was eye-opening is an understatement. So if you want to learn more about what is going on in the Wilmington area, if you want to meet interesting people in a congenial setting, and if you want to learn about ways you can contribute to the community through volunteerism and membership in organizations, I encourage you to sign up for the Adult Scholars Leadership Program at www.uncw.edu/olli or call 910.962.3195.
The next class will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Feb. 6 to 14, 2017, with morning coffee and a catered lunch. Tuition and fees are $250 plus OLLI membership of $30.
Barbara Clouse is Class of 2016 representative and a current board member of ASLP.