Lifelong Learning program inspires Waco senior citizens to continue education

Photo courtesy of Doug Baldwin.

By Casey Sadler | Reporter

Baylor University provides an avenue for the continued education of Waco’s senior citizens through the Mayborn Museum program, Lifelong Learning (LLL). The group is a mostly volunteer-led and membership-based program that offers a myriad of learning courses for those 50 years and older.

According to LLL President, Doug Baldwin, the program is led by eight teams including around 60 volunteers who play a role in the execution, planning and preparation of each LLL semester. The teams include Curriculum, Special Events, Course Hosts, Publicity, Membership, Communication, Publications and History, with the Leadership team overseeing all the others.

The program teaches over 400 students, who join classes both in person and via Zoom. Anywhere from 12-15 courses are offered each semester and consist of four-week classes, each an hour and a half long.

Offered classes include Storytelling by Photography, Cybersecurity, Stargazing, The Crusades, Financial Planning for Seniors, Christian Hymns and even a zoom class on the Classics of Children’s Literature. Additionally, a class titled World War II and the Road to V-J (Victory over Japan) Day is taught by first gentleman, Brad Livingstone, who currently teaches history to high school students at Vanguard Preparatory School. These are just a small portion of the vast variety of courses LLL provides.

We’ve been extremely blessed in having so many excellent speakers. We have a number of current Baylor professors, a larger number of retired Baylor professors and of course, Waco is filled with many interesting people. So, we really have lots of resources that we can draw on, and many of them volunteer,” Baldwin said.

In addition to the courses, LLL has five interest groups: memoir writing, leisure travel, family tree, eager eaters and poetry. According to Baldwin, these groups meet to discuss their shared interests for no longer than an hour and are an enjoyable aspect of the LLL program. The group also enjoys one bus trip, two coffee meetings and one end-of-the-semester luncheon, which includes a special guest speaker.

The 2022-2023 academic year is the 25th anniversary of the program. According to documentation provided by Judy Staples, former LLL president and current history team leader, for the first 22 years the program was led by a part-time coordinator and spent time under Continuing Education and the Baylor Alumni Association, before residing under the Mayborn Museum.

Broader Impacts and Volunteer Engagement Manager for the Mayborn Museum, Sherry DeHay, overlooks and is involved in the operations of LLL, as is every team at the Mayborn. The Education and Programs team, the Communication team, the Facilities team and the Operations team all play special roles in helping the program be as successful as possible.

“A majority of Mayborn staff members work closely with the LLL volunteer leadership to ensure high quality experiences for their members. As a result, we have developed relationships with members of the community that are rich and rewarding,” DeHay said. “The Mayborn is so pleased to see senior adults in the museum and to host opportunities for them to experience the exhibits and programs at the museum.”

As Baldwin and other LLL members prepare for the spring semester, the program will release a spring edition of their quarterly brochure, which details information on upcoming classes, volunteering and how to become a member. These can be picked up at the Mayborn Museum and inside other local offices and public locations.

The only requirements are that one is 50 years of age or older and is a member of the Mayborn Museum. Mayborn membership costs $40 and LLL membership costs $10, totaling $50 to be a part of the learning program.

The relationships that you make working on this, working in the program, is almost as important as the classes,” Baldwin said.