Student Donates Award Winnings to the Emeritus Institute

Emeritus Director Sandra Marzilli, Elizabeth Busick and President Tod Burnett

Emeritus Institute student Elizabeth Busick took the money she received when she was named a winner of the California Senior Leaders Award from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and put it right back into education – she donated it to the Saddleback College Emeritus Institute.

Earning the award was a real honor for Ms. Busick, who was one of 30 seniors selected among nominees throughout the state.  The award has earned her a spot on the California Senior Leaders Alliance for the next two years, in addition to $500, which was to be put toward a non-profit program of her choice.  We are glad and thankful that Ms. Busick chose to donate the funds to the Emeritus Institute.

Ms. Busick, a resident of Mission Viejo and a Saddleback College student for 38 years, believes strongly in the importance of the Emeritus Institute and the difference it has made in the lives of so many seniors.  She said, “I am a strong advocate of life-long learning.  That’s part of the reason I chose to give the Emeritus Institute the $500 I won from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. The classes the Emeritus Institute offers help seniors remain active, alert and independent and function as vital members of their community rather than dependents of their families or the State of California. These classes…are vital to keeping seniors mentally and physically fit. I can attest to their validity having taken a variety of the stimulating classes.”

She’s not exaggerating when she says she has taken a variety of classes.  Just some of the classes Elizabeth has completed include Pilates Conditioning, Birds of the World, Intro to Opera, Beginning Digital Photography, and Intro to Philosophy. She looks forward to taking Tai Chi, Aquatic Fitness,  and Jewelry Metal Fabrication in the near future.

Saddleback College thanks Ms. Busick for her generous gift, which will help other seniors gain valuable experiences in the Emeritus Institute!

Innovative Ceramics Program Gives Veterans a Free Outlet for Creativity

Jason Conway, USMC, Iraq War Veteran; Steve Dilley, instructor; Duane Matthews, USMC, Vietnam War Veteran; Ryan Anderson, USMC; Nick Koscielski, USN, Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan; Brandon Houser, USMC, Iraq War Veteran

It started with a casual conversation between ceramics instructor Steve Dilley and his long-time friend.  Inspired by research into alternative treatments for veterans experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dilley wanted to start a ceramics program open to veterans as an escape from the emotional and physical trauma they may have suffered. That friend, who is a veteran, gave Dilley a check for $12,000 and, with help from Dean of Fine Arts & Media Technology Bart McHenry, Ceramics Instructor Richard White, and Community Education Director Estella Castillo-Garrison, the program started this semester at Saddleback.

The program, which is free to veterans and their spouses through Community Education, saw a doubling of students from its first week to the second and it looks to continue to grow as more student veterans discover it. Dilley is working closely with the college’s VETS Center, specifically with Kevin Williams’ Applied Psychology 140 class geared toward veterans, to tout the benefits of having a fun course like ceramics.

Dilley tells all students to come as they are, regardless of physical or mental limitations. “You can do ceramics with one hand. You can do it if you’ve had traumatic brain injury.  It really doesn’t matter. These veterans can do it.” Ceramics has the ability to help improve fine motor skills and concentration, even if veterans have severe injuries.

Dilley sees the program as a bridge to academics, especially for those who are not yet ready to take traditional classes. “When we’re talking about ceramics, we touch on chemistry, geology, anthropology, and a lot of other areas of study. This may be a way for these students to find their calling and career path.”

Although the current donation will only cover this semester’s course, Dilley is hoping to continue and expand it.  In addition to starting a similar program at another community college, Dilley is also hoping to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring the program to military bases and hospitals.  It appears that he may be close to his goal — the VA has shown an interest in having him speak to injured veterans about alternative PTSD treatments.

Even though the program is already bigger than he ever imagined, Dilley still believes, “If I help lessen the pain of just one veteran, this program will have been successful.”