Lifelong learning with Lindsey Beagley

Connecting Pre- and Post-professionals through Intergenerational Programming

Mar 30, 2022

One of the standout characteristics of Mirabella at ASU, compared to other University-based Retirement Communities, is the vision for full integration of the Mirabella at ASU community into the ASU campus community. We envision Mirabella community members as both new kinds of learners on campus and valued contributors. Indeed, over 35% of ASU students are first-generation students and do not necessarily enjoy a network of people in their lives who are experienced at navigating the nuances of a successful university education. By contrast, over 80% of our community members hold at least one graduate degree. They bring a wealth of personal and professional experience and skill, as well as a desire to support student success.

Mirabella at ASU has an ASU Engagement office that serves as a resource dedicated to implementing this vision of full integration, including designing programming to support intergenerational connections. It’s not enough to simply locate a senior living community on a college campus. We thoughtfully design programs which promote the opportunity for positive intergenerational exposure and connection that can organically lead to deeply meaningful and impactful mentoring relationships.

Intergenerational Mixer Event

In collaboration with the ASU Public Service Academy/Next Generation Service Corps.

In November 2021, we partnered with the ASU Public Service Academy, a student certificate program that trains students to be cross-sector, character-driven leaders. Since retirees have had long careers, often spanning the private, non-profit, public, and military sectors, we knew that Mirabella at ASU would be a great fit to make connections. 

The mixer event was structured with one goal in mind: give students the opportunity to introduce themselves to at least a few post-career professionals whom they can call upon as needed as their education and careers progress. 

  • In the first round of introductions, we asked the students and residents to move to the table that best represented their hobbies, and we gave them 15 minutes to meet someone from another generation that shares their love of music, art, civic engagement, outdoor recreation, board games, etc.
  • In the second round, we asked the students and residents to move to the table that best represented their professional interests/background, such as healthcare, politics/public service, academia, marketing/advertising, law, nonprofit management, computer science, etc. 
  • In the final round, we asked the students and residents to move to the table that best represented the areas of social impact they cared about most. Students and retirees discovered a shared passion for climate activism, public education, homelessness and housing insecurity, etc. 

The outcome of this event was that 17 students got the name and email address of up to 5 people that they can call upon for a coffee chat or a practice interview. The event renewed our enthusiasm and excitement for future opportunities to connect across generations. 

The Pre-Med Student/Post-Med Roundtable Discussion Series

This spring, the ASU student chapter of The Connected Foundation reached out to us to find out how their student club members could connect with residents at Mirabella. After some discussion, we learned that most members happened to be pre-med students, and the Mirabella community is home to many retired physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals. Interested residents drafted up a list of potential discussion topics that they deemed critical but that students do not learn in medical school. Students prioritized the topic of med student and physician burnout, and we set a date to gather for a valuable discussion.

After a lively dialogue, one of the takeaways was that young students cannot fathom the length of a career, particularly given our new longer lifespans. Feeling pressure to achieve everything immediately and never slow down to care for their mental and physical wellbeing, they were relieved and inspired to learn from Mirabella residents that it is possible and necessary to find ways to configure one’s career to stay healthy in a demanding field.

One student, a Marine Corps veteran and pre-med student pursuing a career in emergency medicine, reported to his healthcare delivery class the following week:

I really appreciated the format of a roundtable discussion and the insight all four physicians provided about a career in medicine. I found it very important to understand that, although medical professionals go into medicine to take care of others, they need to remember to take care of themselves.

The value of connecting pre- and post-professionals in these ways will have untold ripple effects for student success. We look forward to continuing to develop programs that leverage the skill and experience of our Mirabella at ASU community members in service to the next generation of leaders and learners at ASU.