When Ann Jordan heard about the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Kennesaw State University, she knew it would be an opportunity to expand her education and meet new people her age who also have similar interests.
“It’s just nice to have this time to come here and be surrounded by people who are the same age and at the same point in life as you are,” Jordan said.
A division of the university’s College of Continuing and Professional Education, OLLI was established in 1998 as Kennesaw State Senior University. It was renamed to OLLI in 2004 and received its first endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation in 2005, which aims to improve the quality of life for senior students through continuing education.
The program offers a wide variety of courses ranging from health classes that focus on nutrition and aging to Spanish classes to seminars covering how to sell items on eBay.
Jordan is enrolled in beginners Pencil, Pen, and Ink Drawing, and said she plans to begin the advanced subsequent drawing class in July.
Sitting in a classroom in the KSU Continuing Education building on Busbee Drive, Jordan and her classmates, all of whom are at least 50 years old, show off their drawings and work diligently.
“Would you believe they’re all beginners?” asked William Singleton, the class’ 87-year-old instructor.
OLLI’s eight-week long classes allow students ages 50 years old or older to indulge their passions and interests without having to worry about grades, exams or research papers.
“We have a lot of fun because none of us take it too seriously,” Jordan said.
Singleton, a Kennesaw resident, began teaching at OLLI eight years ago after he moved to Kennesaw from Buffalo, N.Y.
Singleton, who taught himself to draw by using an upside-down picture of a monk, was searching for a way to be involved in his community when he was hired by KSU.
“When we moved down from Buffalo, I said I wanted to get into doing something,” Singleton said.
Now he uses that same picture of an upside down monk to teach his students how to draw. After the students have mastered drawing the monk, he allows them to bring in a picture of something they would like to draw.
Jordan, who began her artistic career at OLLI nine weeks ago, held up a drawing she recently completed of her mailbox at her childhood home which displayed her maiden name ‘Chambers.’
“We just wanted to put something on paper that someone could recognize,” Jordan said. “He teaches you to draw what you see and from there it’s very easy.”
About 560 students were enrolled in OLLI classes from April 2013 to June 2013 and about 3,000 students enrolled in OLLI courses over the last year, said Davia Rose Lassiter, marketing and public relations representative for KSU.
In addition to the diverse classes, OLLI conducts four themed socials each year, which usually include food and a live band.
OLLI will conduct an end-of-summer luau on Aug. 2 at the KSU College of Continuing and Professional Education. Tickets will cost $10 per person.
In addition to socials, OLLI hosts a winter open house called Donuts and Notes, which features donuts, coffee, local performers and artists showcases.
More information about the OLLI program, classes, and events can be found at kennesaw.edu/olli.