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Students gain wisdom from 100-year-old Augustana residents

On March 18, North Central University’s longtime neighbor, Augustana Care, hosted North Central students and staff members for a “History and Wisdom” conversation with several Augustana residents who are 100 years old and older.

The idea for the event was the brainchild of NCU alumna Rynae (Nelson ‘13) Berkness, a Social Work graduate serving as the Activities Director for the Augustana Apartments.

“I thought how fun would it be to gather our residents together who were 100 years of age or older and be able to glean some advice or wisdom from,” Berkness explained. “And better yet, why not reach out to our neighbors at North Central University to create an intergenerational connection?”

Sharing joy and gratitude with the elderly

In a panel-discussion format, four of the seven centenarians currently at Augustana answered question about their childhoods, changes in technology, and wisdom for life. Both the young and old in attendance gained insight into what it takes to live such a long life.

Junior Juliann Cole, also a Social Work major, served as co-moderator for the event. “This event was filled with joy,” Cole said. “It was such an honor to celebrate the lives of these amazing people. You could tell that the Augustana residents loved sharing their stories just as much as we loved listening. Nothing has changed my outlook on life more than hearing a 101-year-old woman tell me that her secret to a long and happy life is counting her blessings every day.”

Alumni Director Tabby (Wilson) Finton appreciated what she heard flowing from the seniors in the spotlight. “It was precious to hear the sage advice of the centenarians, and to see their faces light up with recollection as they shared,” Finton said. “It can be easy to forget that our current situations and circumstance aren’t the full story. These residents showed us a beautiful example of choosing to live fully all the days of their lives.”

Berkness is excited about the event and is already thinking about more ways to bring the Augustana and North Central communities together. “It was a beneficial time not only for the residents being honored, but also for those who were in the audience—an opportunity for all of us to think about our lives and how we are living them, that there is meaning and purpose in all that we do!”

Best advice to a younger self

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from Lloyd (100), Marie (101), Miriam (101), and Fran (105½).

  • “Take what comes!”
  • “Keep on keeping on!”
  • “Do unto others as you want for yourself.”
  • “Be interested in your religion. That’s the main thing.”
  • “Do the best you can wherever you are, and always be young in your heart.”
  • “Every day is your birthday! Appreciate your friends; love and honor your Lord and Savior.”
  • “Count your blessings every day.”