HSE graduate program spotlight: gerontology

If your passions are rooted in improving the lives of others, particularly in the older population, NDSU’s gerontology program can set you up for a successful career in the field of aging.

Gerontology is the multidisciplinary study of the aging processes and individuals as they grow from middle age through later life. The discipline is concerned with the physical, mental and social aspects and implications of aging.

 “Our gerontology master’s program trains students to be innovators and leaders in the broad, interdisciplinary field of aging studies and services,” says Heather Fuller, associate professor of human development and family science. “Because the program is offered entirely online, it provides students the unique opportunity to complete the degree on their own schedule and at their own pace, which is a perfect fit for professionals looking to advance their careers in a new direction. The program is designed to instill the core skills and knowledge essential to become an expert in the field of gerontology, but also allows students to tailor their coursework to their own interests and take advantage of applied opportunities and real-world experiences.”

Individuals interested in gerontology come from many disciplines, professions and clinical areas. Some gerontologists work directly with older persons in a wide variety of programs and services in the community. Others work on behalf of older persons in areas such as advocacy and teaching about aging.

Businesses, government agencies, service organizations educational institutions and self-employed professionals from every economic sector are recognizing the need for specialized knowledge and skills to meet the needs of our aging society.

Learn how to support and make a difference in the lives of older persons by applying for the gerontology graduate program today.

NDSU professor earns faculty excellence award

Heather Fuller, NDSU associate professor of human development and family science, was awarded the Great Plains IDEA Faculty Excellence Award during a recent meeting of the group’s faculty and administrators.

“I feel truly honored to receive this award from GP IDEA,” Fuller said. “I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to collaborate with my gerontology colleagues to work together to train students from across the globe to be the next generation of professionals and scholars that will continue advancing the field of aging studies.”

The award recognizes a significant contribution of faculty in a Great Plains IDEA academic program. Award winners devote, time, energy and resources to enhancing the alliance academic community.

Award recipients develop creative courses and mentoring programs or make a significant impact on teaching in a Great Plains IDEA program.

Fuller’s research and teaching focus on lifespan development, interpersonal relationships in later life, successful aging and aging family dynamics. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish at the University of Minnesota, and a master’s and doctorate in developmental psychology at the University of Michigan.

Great Plains IDEA is an alliance of accredited public universities from the United States who collaborate to provide online educational experiences to working adults. Students can choose NDSU as a home university and take courses from NDSU and other colleges in the alliance.

“This is a well-deserved honor in light of Heather’s excellent teaching in the program and her leadership this year of the gerontology faculty group, which is undertaking a major curriculum revision,” said Joel Hektner, head of the NDSU human development and family science department. “Heather is the only recipient of the award this year across the entire consortium. It is the highest faculty award in the organization.”

Inspiring Alumni Spotlight: Anne-Marie Fitz

NDSU College of Human Sciences and Education alumna Anne-Marie Fitz has been recognized as an outstanding women in the field of senior housing. She is one of 15 women named to the Rising Stars Class of 2022 by McKight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

There were several hundred nominations for the award. A national, independent panel of judges reviewed each nomination and selected the winners. Rising Stars are women 40 years of age or younger or have less than 15 years in the industry. All award recipients are required to demonstrate an exceptional commitment to the senior housing and care field.

Fitz is currently the executive director at Touchmark in Fargo. She began working there as an intern in 2007.

Her employer describes her as having genuine and thoughtful leadership, being known at Touchmark and in the community for her clear thinking, calmness, compassion, integrity and creativity, no matter the circumstances.

“Anne-Marie is one of those rare individuals who makes you feel good just by being around her,” said Marcus Breuer, CEO of Touchmark. “In every role she has held during her 15-year career with Touchmark, she has made a lasting impression on our team members and residents. Now, as Executive Director at Touchmark at Harwood Groves, she leads nearly 150 staff members and more than 200 residents, which is no small feat during the pandemic and a $9 million+ full campus refurbishment project.”

Fitz earned her bachelor’s degree in child development and family science with a minor in gerontology.

Dr. Jim Deal, Interim Dean

Email:  Jim.Deal@ndsu.edu

Dr. Jill Nelson, Interim Dean

Email:  Jill.R.Nelson@ndsu.edu

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