The Best Kept Secret in L.A.

by Maxine Kardell

Senior Scholar


Higher education was fed to me with my baby food. My Depression era Mom was unable to attend college and felt she had missed out. As she spooned me pureed veggies and fruits, her mantra was, “When you grow up, you’re going to college.” Even after I graduated with a Juris Doctor from law school, Mom would tell me to take classes.

Imagine my delight when I learned about the UCLA Longevity Center’s Senior Scholars Program! Although I’d lived near UCLA for many years, no one had told me about this amazing opportunity for those of us over 50. As soon as I heard about it, I couldn’t wait to enroll.

After many years as an executive, ageism had affected my search for employment. I began taking creative writing workshops, but they were only half day once a week for eight weeks. My first class through the Senior Scholars Program was an on campus summer writing course with UCLA undergraduate students. They were so talented and inspiring, and the instructor was top notch.

I loved being with college students again, especially on the expansive park-like UCLA campus, with its outdoor Murphy Sculpture Garden. For the fall quarter, I was thirsty for more and I enrolled in three classes. I didn’t realize that it would be a bit much for me. One art history class I took that fall brought me up to date on women artists who had not been mentioned in my own undergrad courses.

Especially enjoyable were classes that combined concepts, such as one on the intersection of media and   science.  I also began taking classes outside of my comfort zone. As a Senior Scholars, we are not responsible for taking exams or writing the papers required of the undergrads. Soon I was studying Science and Genetics. Since I’d been centered on the humanities most of my academic work, I surprised myself by signing up for The History of Science, enlarging my understanding of how science interacts with almost everything. Although Senior Scholars are auditors, many of us buy the course books and keep up with the class readings, in textbooks, handouts and those posted online.

I have studied a variety of subject areas with professors who are world class and very stimulating. A class on The Geography of Central Europe included social and cultural developments, taught by a professor who had come to the US because of the difficulties of living under the Communist regime. Whenever I took a class in the English department, I realized how incomplete some of my areas of study had been. In Summer Sessions, I have taken a class on current laws focusing on celebrities’ contracts, and a “Media and the Law” course focused on how lawyers have been portrayed in the media over time.

On the days I have UCLA classes, I make the most of it, by having breakfast or lunch in one of the cafes. The food choices are varied and excellent value. There are many coffee and tea places to relax. I look forward to fall quarter and meeting you for a handshake or lite bite! Welcome to UCLA Senior Scholars….once you are here, I believe you will want to let others know why it is the best kept secret in L.A.