FEATURE—Surrounded by new friends, Susan Doughman moves a colored pencil across a sheet of crisp, white paper. After skillfully swapping one colored pencil for another and carefully shading a figure, the once-blank paper is transformed into a beautiful work of art. At other times, Doughman discusses the plot twists of the latest bestseller with fellow retired residents, takes her turn tickling the ivories, learns how to apply the Chinese decorating system of feng shui, or studies American mythology and folklore. Perhaps most incredibly, Doughman — and all com
“Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of ICL is ridiculous,” Doughman said. “It’s just a great, great opportunity.”
The institute offers Southern Utah residents the opportunity to participate in activities and weekly classes on Dixie State’s campus that cover a variety of topics ranging from taxes and traveling to technology and table tennis. ICL participants can keep a full schedule like Doughman, who likes to attend classes Monday through Thursday, or just take a class or two on subjects that really tickle their fancies. Either way, the $40 registration fee covers all the classes a participant chooses to attend during the fall and spring semesters. That adds up to a host of options, considering that the institute is offering 37 classes this fall.
ICL, which has been operating since 1979, is geared toward residents who want to keep their minds active by exploring intellectual and entertaining topics in a university environment without the pressure of tests. Grades are not kept, and because attendance is not recorded, participants can attend as many or as few classes as their schedules allow. Although the institute attracts a number of retired and semi-retired folks, the program is open to anyone desiring to broaden his or her horizons while meeting new people.
“You can take trips. You can step out and step back in,” Doughman said, adding that in her piano class, the instructors went beyond the call of duty and took time outside of class to catch people up on instruction they missed.
“The dedicated instructors of the various classes are experts in the fields on which they teach and volunteer their time,” said Ron Swenson, past president of the program and a current marketing and advertising committee member. “There are a lot of talented teachers, but no one gets paid,” Swenson said. “The teachers enjoy teaching. We do it because we enjoy getting out and learning.”
Participants don’t earn college credits for the classes, which translates into a low-pressure, easy-going classroom environment.
“We go for joy of learning and meeting people,” Swenson said. According to Doughman, Institute for Continued Learning’s benefits are twofold. First, the program gives students the opportunity to do something they have never done before. It also serves as a way to meet people who have come from all over the country to spend their retirement years in Southern Utah.
“The melting pot is incredible,” Doughman said. “I’ve met some of the greatest people. “I met one friend in the book club, and she invited me to join other book clubs she is in. That led to yoga then lunch.”
ICL’s participants are not the only ones on campus who appreciate the program. Students enrolled in Dixie State’s traditional classes welcome the diversity of silver-haired learners walking amid the sea of young students.
“The young people on the DSU campus are great. I’m 83 years old, and I’m pretty healthy and spry. I don’t need a cane or anything, but these young people hold doors open for us and smile. One even recently said, ‘You’re awesome,’” Swenson said.
“It’s one-hundred percent fun walking across campus. Maybe you don’t walk as fast as they do, but they’re always smiling,” Doughman said, referring to DSU’s traditional students. In addition to being polite and friendly, DSU’s students prove to be quite helpful. “If you’re in a computer class and things aren’t working properly, all you have to do is go out in the hall and get a kid,” Doughman said. “Almost any kid knew what we didn’t know.”
The Institute for Continued Learning’s fall semester begins Sept. 2nd and runs through Dec. 12.
Registration continues in the ICL office, located just west of the DSU campus at 658 E. 200 South, on Mondays through Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. See the ICL Web page here.
The spring session will run from Jan. 12 to April 17.
“Everybody should take advantage of this great program if they can,” Doughman concludes. “There is something for everyone, and there’s almost a hundred percent guarantee they’ll like it. The people behind it do an outstanding job of organizing the program.”
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Written by Jyl Hall for St. George Health & Wellness magazine and St. George News.
Jyl Hall is a public relations/publications coordinator at Dixie State University. For more
information about DSU, contact her at 435-652-7547 or by email.
Email: [email protected]
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