“I’m getting more out of this than they are, for sure!”
When 23-year-old Stephanie Wright saw an email from St. Mary’s University looking for students to live at United Active Living’s Fish Creek community for a semester, she jumped at the chance.
“I lived in Chestermere, so the daily drive to St. Mary’s was quite long,” said Stephanie. “United is right across the street from St. Mary’s, so the location is perfect. Plus, I’ve always wanted to volunteer at an older adult community. And I have a cat, which United accepts. Everything just fell into place!’
United Active Living’s student-in-residence program began in 2016 with a student from Mount Royal University living at United’s Garrison Green. It was so successful that it expanded to St. Mary’s University the following year. United’s residents play a key role in the process of choosing the student. Once applicants are shortlisted, they are interviewed by Bob Hann, St. Mary’s vice-president of student services; Dr. Alisa McArthur, associate professor, psychology; Kim Coulter, Fish Creek program development manager, and two resident volunteers.
Stephanie is in the second year of a four-year Bachelor of Science in Biology degree. When she graduates, she would like to go to medical school and eventually work in a medical clinic that specializes in the health of older adults.
“As a potential medical student, I find that it’s really awesome the way the nursing staff here work with the residents,” said Stephanie. “There are no white coats. Everything is relaxed. The residents are treated with dignity and respect. When I’m older, this is a place I would definitely like to live in.”
Resident Barbara Amrisko, who moved into Fish Creek last summer, has high praise for Stephanie. “I like having her here. She has a big smile all the time!”
Gerald Hankins, a retired surgeon, thinks Stephanie would make an excellent doctor. His advice to her? “Keep a positive attitude, no matter what.”
Ray Waldock is helping Stephanie appreciate philosophy and history. “He has shown me how important it is to understand what has gone on before, and the value of learning from history.
“My friends thought it was odd when I told them I planned to live here,” said Stephanie. “There is such a wide age difference, but we hang out, have lunch and talk. I really like the community environment and the focus on the active lifestyle. There is the stereotype about the lonely senior, but people can be lonely or isolated at any age, so it’s very important to become more involved. People like to sit and talk. It’s just a matter of making the effort to connect.”
Stephanie will live at Fish Creek for the next couple of months until the semester ends. She hosts a weekly game night, and likes to meet new residents and introduce them to others. “I like being around the residents. They have taught me to keep a positive attitude, to enjoy what I have. Being here has changed my life and my perspective on life.”
Contact us to learn more!
Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help!
To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.
Photos and video by Sherana Productions.