Our Program

The EMU Aging Studies Program is part of the global Age-Friendly University initiative and our academic programs have an emphasis on aging-related issues relative to a growing population. Aging Studies graduates identify and address aging and life-course related issues in collaborative, interdisciplinary settings.  We encourage personal self-determination and autonomy for all.  This field is not only rewarding but fills a gap in a specialized high-need industry. Our students learn practical, applicable, and innovative ways to include and engage older adults in all aspects of their chosen profession.

Graduate students can earn a Certificate in Gerontology, Dementia or Long-Term Care Administration. These programs can be used as a complement to another graduate degree program or as a stand-alone academic experience. All three graduate certificates are designed so that professionals already working in the field can learn new and applicable skills to further their careers. 

 

 

  • Why Study at Eastern

    Expert faculty 

    Our faculty are involved in research, and community outreach as well as have practical experience working in the high-growth area working with the older adult population, which translates to innovative courses both online and on campus.  

    Our Students  

    There is a tremendous need for professionals who not only have knowledge of aging trends over the life span and life course, but have an applied skill set to enhance their current program of study,  career development, enhancement, transition or intellectual growth.  We also invite students to engage in life-long learning and take the opportunity to reflect on quality of life in the later parts of the life course.

    What are you waiting for? More than ever, the world needs professionals who understand aging studies. EMU provides students with cutting-edge competencies to meet growing demands.  Our programs ensure that all of us thrive as we age.   

  • Why study aging? 

    We live in an aging nation. Americans are living healthier and longer lives. Now there is a window of opportunity to be a part of this exciting field. Aging is a dynamic process. 

     

  • Careers in Aging

    Addressing new opportunities and challenges that come with a growing aging population involves direct and indirect work opportunities.  Developing an aging specialization will allow you to become leaders and innovators in the following ways: 
    • Technology including web-site design, access and tech literacy, informatics, and organizational compliance with ADA
    • Telehealth and Telemedicine
    • Geropsychology
    • Product development, transportation, and engineering
    • Business, finance, marketing, and human resources
    • Visually-built environments
    • Health and human services organization professionals including medical institutions, hospitals, skilled nursing and long-term care institutions, and ...
      Healthcare informatics and within health systems
    • Communication with and on behalf of older adults, their families, and the community
    • Integrated approaches to aging in policy, research, services, and products
    • Program and service development through design and collaboration with government and community organizations
    • Research application and evaluation in academic, educational, research organizations and in business settings.  
    The possibilities are endless. If you can think of it, you can do it. 
  • Age Friendly University (AFU)

  • Faculty Bios

    Melanie Baird
    Melanie Baird is a lecturer in the Aging Studies Department.  She is the Vice President of Programs for the Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kalamazoo College and a master’s degree in social work from Western Michigan University.  Her community service includes work with the Michigan Dementia Coalition and the Arab American Community Advisory Board for the Michigan Center for Contextual Factors of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Melanie’s interest in the field of Aging stems from spending lots of time with her grandparents as a child.  She elaborates, “That experience gave me such an appreciation and respect for older adults and helped fuel my interest in working with and advocating for them.”  Courses taught: AGIN523 (Designing Activities for People with Dementia). 

    Jean Barnas-Haratsaras
    Jean Barnas-Haratsaras is a lecturer in the Aging Studies Department.  She is the co-author of “Everyday Challenges: The Feasibility of a Family Caregiver Training Program for Persons with Dementia.”  Jean developed her interest in Aging Studies after taking a course in human development and family studies and was instantly drawn to learning more about aging and how to make a positive impact.  She works as an advocate and fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of her mother.  Courses taught: AGIN418/518 (Introduction to Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia) and AGIN524 (Families and Dementia).

    Aging Studies Steering Committee Members:

    Cassandra Barragan - Director of Aging Studies

    Kristine Ajrouch - Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology

    Jennifer Avery - Associate Professor and Associate Director of Graduate Nursing Studies

    Ana Claudia Harten - Professor of Special Education and Communication Sciences and Disorders

    Yvette Colon - Associate Professor of Social Work

    Claudia Drossel - Associate Professor of Psychology

    Annemarie Kelly - Assistant Professor of Health Science

    Christina Marsack-Topolewski - Assistant Professor of Social Work

    Renuka (Ray) Roche - Assistant Professor of Health Sciences

    David Thomas - Professor and Program Director for Therapeutic Recreation

    Sarah Walsh - Associate Professor of Health Sciences; Environmental Science and Society (ENVI) Interdisciplinary Program

    Vicki Washington - Instructor of Nursing

    Heather Wiese - Associate Professor of Health Sciences

    Stephanie Wladkowski - Associate Professor of Social Work

    Andrea Zakrajsek - Professor and Director of Occupational Therapy

  • Advising

    Minor Students
    Scheduling an appointment either before or after you declare your minor can be helpful as you plan your classes throughout your degree program. Advising can help you to determine which classes best fit your interests and schedule.

    Certificate Students
    As a part of the graduate school, certificate students need to develop a plan of study before graduation. Doing this sooner rather than later can help you plan out your academic schedule in advance.

    Advising Appointments
    Contact Cassandra Barragan at https://drbarragansvirtualoffice.setmore.com/jgxrpv or Janet Leppala at https://drbarragansvirtualoffice.setmore.com/janetleppala to schedule an appointment through Zoom. 

Contact Us

Cassandra Barragan, Ph.D., MSW
Eastern Michigan University
206H Marshall Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

734.487.5823 | [email protected]

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We recognize that the COVID-19 situation is having an impact on all aspects of our lives. If you need to talk about your Aging Studies Minor, Gerontology Certificate, Long-Term Care Certificate, or Dementia Certificate, please email me at [email protected]

Many of you interested in or enrolled in the minor or certificate programs are already working with older adults in some capacity and are experiencing additional challenges professionally.

Please see the Older Adults COVID-19 Community Resource Page for links to services for not only older adults, but for professionals and caregivers.

Be safe and take care of yourselves,

Aging Studies Program Faculty Affiliates