Old Main to Old Main presentations connect KU students and Lutheran Home residents
Held on the first Wednesday of each month since October 2021, WIPS Wednesdays provide positive interactions between students and senior residence residents.
“Students can interact and communicate with elders. Older people have the chance to share their backgrounds with young people and give them encouragement and guidance,” said Sarah Connely, director of community life for The Lutheran Home in Topton. “We have seniors who have taught college or graduated from college.”
Each presentation involves a research or project.
“It provides education to seniors on topics they may not have heard of and current trends,” Connely said.
Jennifer Schlegel, Honors Program Director and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Kutztown University, explained that WIPS Wednesdays stand for “Work In Progress Seminar.”
KU students in the honors program must complete an honors capstone project. One of the requirements is to present their WIPS, which is their honors capstone project to date. Those who have already presented their WIPS to KU are eligible to present to residents of The Lutheran Home at Topton.
Each student provides an estimated 15 minute presentation of their work. These can include PowerPoint presentations or demonstrations.
“For example, we asked a student to demonstrate how to use Kutztown University’s scanning electron microscope because it’s possible to access the SEM remotely,” Schlegel said.
Another student played a prototype Eb flute that she designed and 3D printed.
“Students gain experience by presenting their academic work in a supportive environment with a different audience than they are used to in their classrooms,” she said.
Senior residents of Lutheran Home respond with questions, comments and suggestions.
“Most importantly, Kutztown Honors students can gain insight from Topton residents who share their insights and insights from their lifetime of experiences,” Schlegel said.
She hopes that senior residents at The Lutheran Home will gain insight into contemporary undergraduate creativity and research from highly motivated, curious and thoughtful students.
“Some residents have expressed their enthusiasm and optimism for this new generation of scholars and professionals after learning what they are doing. And I hope the residents feel the value and high regard the students have for them” , she said.
Ultimately, Schlegel said the goal of the program is to cultivate relationships between lifelong learners — residents and students — through intergenerational mentorship and intellectual curiosity.
“I see this as a step towards creating more connections between these two institutions, something that I consider Old Main to Old Main, because each campus has a signature building called Old Main,” Schlegel said. “I hope this is the beginning of the development of mutual mentorship and intellectual curiosity.”