Florence HuangCaption: Florence Huang. Photo by Edward Salas

Achieving a Lifelong Goal

Award-Winning Graduate Aims to Improve Life for Seniors

FLORENCE HUANG, who has completed her master’s of science degree in gerontology, is this year's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Award winner. The award honors an outstanding older graduate who personifies the importance of continued learning and sharing knowledge.

“Following graduation, I will devote my life to serving as an advocate for seniors, hoping to make a positive difference in their lives, one senior at a time,” she said.

The longtime Irvine resident had chalked up two decades of experience working in real estate and international trade when she decided to pursue a degree in business, first by graduating with honors from Cal State Fullerton in 1999 and then by gaining admission into the MBA program.

Those plans were put on hold when Huang's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and became her principle caregiver.

After her mother died four years ago, Huang returned to school to study gerontology because she realized how critical this relatively new field of knowledge would be in improving the quality of life for an aging population.

“There is an impending age wave over the next several decades,” she said. “Numerous needs will go unmet unless we are prepared to meet the challenges.”

Since January 2010, Huang was been a member of the AmeriCorps Senior Corps National Service program as a senior mobility ambassador. She has assisted more than 300 disabled and low-income seniors in utilizing Orange County Transportation Authority’s ACCESS paratransit services and other senior transportation programs.

Able to translate four major Chinese dialects—Mandarin, Shanghainese, Cantonese and Taiwanese, Huang has used this knowledge to translate transportation handouts, questionnaires and neuro-psychology tests.

“I hope to translate some of the innovative literature on aging into Chinese,” she said. “There is a huge Chinese aging population and this information would be very beneficial in improving seniors’ quality of life.”

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