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Sharon Hamilton and Norma Drosdowech at the Seniors' Alumni Learning for Life Program

Sharon Hamilton and Norma Drosdowech at the Seniors' Alumni Learning for Life Program

From politics to flax seed

2016 Senior Alumni program thrills attendees

May 2, 2016 — 

“I think it’s excellent. I enjoyed it. Part of that is, first of all there are excellent speakers and it’s wonderful to keep ahead of what research is being done at the university, but the other part of it is it’s very well organized,” says Norma Drosdowech.

The Seniors’ Alumni Learning for Life program wrapped-up a successful second season with applause from its attendees, like the spry 81 year old University of Manitoba two-time alumna.

She exemplifies lifelong learning. In 1957 she earned her degree in education. Nearly 30 years later Drosdowech came back to the U of M and completed her masters – also in education.

“I think everybody needs elements of lifelong learning. I really do I think that’s quite important. You’re really thinking when you’re in there [the lecture] but what I like about it is they have not watered it down,” says Drosdowech. “There is a realization that just because you’re older and grey-haired, doesn’t mean you’re not thinking and that you’re not interested in learning.”

The series of seven lectures covered topics ranging from death, to vitamin supplements, to crime, to politics, to the environment and more. Leading experts in their fields led intimate classroom-like sessions, where engaging, lively discussions percolated among those who share a love of learning.

“Where else can you go that you get coffee before you begin and coffee and cookies after?” Drosdowech chuckles. “A lot of these small things make it very worthwhile.”

Sharon Hamilton holds a bachelor and masters degrees in education from the U of M. She also has a bachelor of arts from the U of W and a PhD from London University. As it turns out, Hamilton was a student of Drosdowech’s and with four degrees hanging on her wall, she also epitomizes what it means to be a lifelong learner.

“Many of the sessions have been excellent. What I like as much as being listening and finding the latest research, is being in the company of a lot of other people who are interested in learning for the rest of their lives,” says Hamilton.

“Here, these are people who are really interested in what they’re hearing. They’re interested not only in the world they’re coming into as elderly, they’re interested in leaving a good world for the next generation. I sit there and I feel made larger, made better by listening to them, by listening to the lectures about health, the environment, climate change, and understanding the world better than I did before.”

Hamilton is one of many who attended both seasons. She says one lecture from the 2015 session even changed her behaviour. Will Flax End Up in Your Medicine Cabinet?

“We’ve been eating flax every day ever since that lecture,” says Hamilton.

One timely session in the 2016 series looked at political theory and the underlying principles for conservativism, liberalism and social democracy.

Hamilton, a self-declared Liberal up until then, began to question why.

“That’s stood out for me because it was a week before the election. I have a hard time sometimes putting myself with the Liberals or with the social democrats – with the NDP. The professor had a really good way of saying this is what divides the two, this is what they’re similar in. That was a highlight for me.”

For information on the fall 2016 session visit

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