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Glenda Keenan 

CAREER Senior policy analyst at Department of Health and Wellness EDUCATION Family Studies and Gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University

click to enlarge SCOTT BLACKBURN

I've always been interested in the issues seniors face in my community. My mother was a home support worker for the provincial home-care program when I was growing up, and during high school I volunteered at a long-term care facility. While I was doing my undergrad at Dal, I worked as a summer student in a seniors' facility. Now I work as a senior policy analyst at the provincial Department of Health and Wellness in the continuing care branch.

I studied family studies and gerontology at Mount Saint Vincent University. Gerontology is the study of aging, and it's becoming increasingly important as baby boomers are getting older. The Mount's program is two years long with a thesis component. At the Mount you can focus more on the family studies side of it or the gerontology side, but unlike some master's degrees that might pigeonhole you into a specific job, with a degree in family studies and gerontology, the job possibilities are pretty broad.

There's a growing need for people who have knowledge and expertise in the field of gerontology: 25 percent of Canada's population is going to be 65 or older by the year 2030, and we need to make sure they get the support they need. It's not just health care or government issues---the care has to come from the individual, the family and the community as a whole to support the challenges that will come from having a population in that age range.

I didn't always know that I wanted to do my master's in gerontology, but when I finished my undergrad, I met with one of the faculty members in the program and it sounded like a really exciting time to be getting into this discipline. I had a great experience at the Mount---the classes are small so the faculty are extremely supportive and committed to their students. I benefitted from pretty generous funding, and I had the chance to work alongside some of the most qualified researchers in the field.

At work, I develop and maintain provincial long-term care plans and home-care policies for seniors. I'm lucky to work in an area I'm passionate about. To be able to provide government decision-makers with the tools to ensure that our aging population gets the attention they need feels really good.

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