Skip to Content | Text-only

Student Mentoring Conference Highlights Ethnicity, Diversity, and Health Disparity in Elders

March 2007

Over 80 students and faculty mentors convened in Atlanta, March 23-25, 2007 for the 18th Annual Southeastern Regional Student Mentoring Conference in Gerontology and Geriatrics hosted by Georgia State University Gerontology Institute (GSU). This year's theme, "Ethnicity, Diversity, and Health Disparity in Aging and the Aged," was chosen because of the increasing impact and expansion of ethnic subgroups on the field of gerontology and geriatrics. Dr. Frank Whittington, Director of the Gerontology Institute at GSU, gave a warm welcome to conference attendees to begin the three-day event Friday afternoon.

This conference began in 1989 to provide a forum for students studying gerontology in Georgia to meet, share their research and learn more about their common interests. Nine co-sponsoring universities from all over the southeast participated this year. Students presented their collaborative research on aging issues including hospice use among African Americans, cultural influences on aging, and a variety of assisted living / nursing home issues: dementia care, staff satisfaction, and admission factors. All research was displayed on large posters that were available during the conference for participant viewing. Students were recognized for outstanding quality and presentation of their research. Winners of the Lee Awards are:

Best Presentation: Sara Hendrix from The University of Georgia
First Place Poster: Niki Munk from The University of Kentucky
Second Place Poster: Michale Lepore from Georgia State University
Third Place Poster: Jessica Yeakle from The University of Alabama
Honorable Mention Poster:    Philip Haley from The University of Alabama

Six students from the GSU Gerontology Institute presented posters based on their research:
• Bootstrap Women: Life Satisfaction of Aging Lesbians -- Margaret Fletcher
• Investigating Potential Risk Factors for Nursing Home Admission Associated with Individuals Enrolled in Georgia's Community Care Services Program (Medicaid Waiver Program for the Elderly) -- Matthew L. Johnson
• Assisted Living Facilities Vs. Nursing Homes: Long Term Care Workers Motivations for Employment -- Michael Lepore
• The Context of Memory Complaints in Older Adults -- Dianne O'Donnell
• Caring for Residents with Dementia in Assisted Living Facilities: The Experiences of the Care Staff -- April Ross
• Individual Level Predictors of Worker Satisfaction in Assisted Living -- Mark Sweatman

Dr. Charles F. Longino, Jr. presented the faculty keynote address, "Immigration and Ethnic Diversity." His authority on retirement migration in America has garnered Dr. Longino lecture invitations throughout the US and internationally. Dr. Longino is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Reynolda Gerontology Program at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. He is also Professor of Public Health Sciences at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Student keynote addresses were given by GSU gerontology alumni, Chivon Mingo, from The University of South Florida, "Arthritis in Older Adults," and Michelle Hilgeman from The University of Alabama, "Positive Aspects of Caregiving." They were selected for quality participation in prior student mentoring conferences. Michale Lepore and Niki Munk were selected to give the two keynote addresses at next year's conference.

The conference opening banquet highlighted singing and dancing talent from among Georgia State's gerontology students. Another highlight for attendees was a visit to the Georgia Aquarium with expert guide, Diane O'Donnell, who does volunteer work for the Aquarium when not studying gerontology.

Next year's mentoring conference will be held in Tybee Island, Georgia, hosted by Armstrong Atlantic State University.