by Emily Vontom, Published May 11, 2012
YPSILANTI - Elizabeth Schuster, a professor at Eastern Michigan University, has been named the 2012 Public Citizen of the Year by the Michigan Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
"To receive this recognition at this particular stage of my life is deeply moving," said Schuster. "It has provided me with the opportunity to pause and to reflect on my life's journey and how it is that I came to this very special moment. I will treasure this lovely moment for the rest of my life."
Schuster, who holds a doctorate degree in aging, joined Eastern in 1986 as a professor of gerontology and social work. She has been the director of the gerontology program for 23 years and the director of the undergraduate social work program for two years. The undergraduate program is the largest in Michigan, and one of the largest in the country, with more than 700 students.
As an advocate for older adults, Schuster has established several programs to enrich and improve the quality of life for older adults, including an intergenerational art program known as the Traveling Young at Art. In addition, she has also created the Elderwise Learning in Retirement and Elderquest programs at Eastern, which create educational opportunities and seek to involve the wisdom and experience of older generations at the University.
"Working with older adults is the most rewarding, challenging and life changing work there is," said Schuster. "What other population teaches us how to adapt, how to cope, how to live a life of dignity, and offers wisdom gleaned from decades of a life well lived?"
The mission of the NASW-Michigan is to support, promote and advocate the professional social work practice, practitioners and the social work profession, to improve the quality of life for the people of Michigan.