More AlumniKathryn Berlin
Andres E. Carrillo
Katie Hill Gallant
Tetyana P. Shippee
John Spruill III
April J. Stull
Roland J. Thorpe
Mary Marshall, PhD ('18)
Mary Marshall graduated from Purdue with a dual-title degree in Human Development and Family Studies and Gerontology in 2018. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Gerontology at California State University Long Beach. Mary does qualitative research on social health and wellbeing in older adults and age-friendly spaces in communities.
How did you become interested in gerontology?
When I was in my undergraduate program at Bowling Green State University, I majored in Human Development and Family Studies because I knew I wanted to help people. I wasn’t sure exactly which direction I wanted to go in, until my outstanding advisor and professor introduced me to gerontology. I volunteered time in a senior facility, read articles, and talked to her over coffee about the issues facing older adults. I loved the idea that I was studying a field I would be lucky to join at some point in my life!
What do you remember best about your time in the Center on Aging and the Life Course?
One of the most amazing things about being part of CALC is the relationships you form with your peers and professors. I learned so much about aging by taking classes in other departments and hearing about the research my peers were doing from other disciplines. I have a much better understanding of gerontology because of this multidisciplinary approach, and I love that I have a network of friends and colleagues all across the US that I met through this program.
Who were your mentors and what were the attributes they had that helped you?
My advisor was Dr. Cleve Shields in HDFS, and we worked on a large-scale project starting my first day at Purdue and still continuing now. I learned so much through this project and through working with Dr. Shields on my dissertation. But mostly I learned the importance of asking questions, being bold in your writing, and being okay with setbacks in research (it just means you learned another piece of information). Overall, I learned a lot from all of the professors I worked with in the CALC program. Special thanks for Dr. Jill Suitor and Dr. David Waters for amazing classes that taught me critical thinking skills.
Are you working on any new research projects related to aging?
I am currently working with a lab of 7 students at California State University Long Beach on a project to understand how older adults adjust to moving into assisted living. We completed surveys and qualitative interviews with 50 older adults across two counties in California. We are currently coding the transcripts to see how they made decisions about moving into assisted living, what factors were important, and how they feel about their decision now.
In what ways do you infuse ideas from your study of aging into courses that you are now teaching?
I only teach courses in Gerontology, so it is all about aging! I teach an introduction to gerontology course that exposes students from a variety of majors to the field. For our graduate students I teach courses about dementia, end of life issues, health assessments with older adults, and social policy. My favorite age-related theories to include in my classes are the Socioemotional Selectivity Theory and the bioecological model.