Continuing to Serve

Barbara Talento Remains an Active Part of Campus Community

August 13, 2007

By Pam McLaren

If Barbara Talento seems to be very much at home at her desk in the offices of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, it may be because she has spent a lot of her time as a member and a supporter of the organization.

As a faculty member on campus, she was appointed to work with the support group organization when it was known as Continuing Learning Experience.

When her mother moved in with her, Talento got her involved in its many classes, activities and special programs.

Talento also conducted some of the research she needed for her doctorate by working with its members.

“I’ve always been involved,” said Talento, emeritus associate professor of nursing and president of the organization. “As soon as I retired, here I came.”

Although she resisted being president of the organization a long time — “I was involved in several off-campus groups right after retirement,” Talento is now serving her second tenure as leader of OLLI. Among the things she is focused on is expanding the membership. “We’re making a push to reach out to campus alumni and other baby boomers, to make them more aware of OLLI and what it has to offer.”

The organization currently has more than 800 members but Talento would like to see that grow. Stressing all the activities and learning opportunities the organization offers, Talento mentions that she hopes to schedule additional programs, such as line dancing and yoga that can help seniors remain active and mobile. She points to how Olli contributes to the research in various faculty and academic research programs — and not just from on campus. “We are the elder research rats,” she says, much like students often participate in research endeavors.

“I used to coordinate our Advances in Medicine lecture series,” Talento explains. During one of the first years of the popular series, a faculty member from UCI presented his Alzheimer’s research. “He talked about various activities that could help to avoid getting the disease and talked about the importance of being able to conduct brain autopsies. Seventy-five members of the audience immediately signed up to have autopsies done when they died to advance research into this area.”

Currently members of the organization have been participating in a study of how brains process information. Barbara Cherry, assistant professor of psychology, is conducting the study.

“Most research has found that as we age if we stay involved in new activities that challenge the brain, we continue to build new neurons and new brain pathways,” says Talento. “That’s why OLLI is so great. We offer a wide range of activities and programs, so there is always something new. What more can we ask of life than to enjoy it to the fullest?"


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