Emeritus College a jewel in Santa Monica’s crown


I love my grandma! She taught me to appreciate the written word, took me to swimming lessons, paid for me to go to Space Camp and always made sure I was well fed. I spent last night on the phone with her for about an hour, talking about politics, her new-found love of gin and tonics and about my grandpa, who unfortunately passed away when I was just an infant.

Talking with her reminded me of how lucky I am that she is 91 and still going strong. She has so much knowledge, I want to learn as much as I can while I still can.

Our elders are tremendous people who have so much to offer, yet sometimes are forgotten. This blog will help serve as a reminder of the important role they play in all of our lives. Harriet Epstein, a fiery Santa Monican who can teach you a thing or two about a thing or two, penned this submission, drawing attention to a great resource in Downtown Santa Monica, the Emeritus College. I suggest you stop by and discover a place where age is just a number.

Take it away Harriet!

Emeritus College, which this year is celebrating its 40th anniversary, is one of the lesser-known assets of the Santa Monica community.  A program of Santa Monica College, Emeritus provides state-funded classes for senior citizens in 120 subjects from Shakespeare to gospel chorus to aerobics to computers. Although they range in age from 60 to over 85, Emeritus students are not content to just play bingo in their golden years.

Its 3,000 students travel from Santa Monica and surrounding neighborhoods: Malibu, Venice, Culver City, Los Angeles, Marina del Rey, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and even Beverly Hills to a four-story community built “campus” at 1227 Second Street. The eclectic student body consists of men and women who often possess graduate degrees and have retired from careers as business managers, doctors, professionals and educators. They speak more than 13 languages, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Yiddish, Persian, Arabic and “Hawaiian hula.”

They are the shoppers you see on the Third Street Promenade.  In an effort to create closer ties to the students and benefit merchants, the Emeritus Students Union, an independent association of students attending the college, has arranged student discounts in several Promenade stores. And we are always looking for more — just contact me.

It’s clear that Emeritus College offers senior students an opportunity to socialize with their peers and provides a home away from home.  The various classes keep students mentally and physically stimulated, helping to avoid the costly and debilitating diseases of old age which place a health care burden on families and state taxpayers. These people are your mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers and grandfathers and, hopefully, in the future, you.

What the program brings to the community is important, too. Many activities add to the cultural life of Santa Monica. The works of talented Emeritus artists are periodically displayed on the lobby level of the campus. Their exhibits of oil paintings, drawings or photography are open and free to the public. Choral and band performances by the musicians among us are offered, usually at Santa Monica College’s Broad Stage on 11th Street.  In the wider community, non-profits, such as museums and charity shops, depend upon senior volunteers to keep their doors open. Seniors form the backbone of the city, adding their wisdom to public dialog and support in making Santa Monica a vibrant place to live, learn and prosper.

Harriet P. Epstein is President of the Emeritus Students Union, an association of students formed two years ago to defeat a state proposal to eliminate program funding.  She can be reached at emeritusstudents@gmail.com or through www.emeritusstudents.org.