Research group attends conference

Grambling State University’s Social Research Club recently participated in the 25th celebration of the Association of Gerontology and Human Development Conference at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The conference was hosted by North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, N.C., March 31- April 2.

The attendees received a warm welcome by the president of the association, John C. Smith, and the executive director, Dr. Mary William. The theme of the conference was “Aging In a Multi-Cultural Society: Empowering Adults To Age Well.”

Niquaja Buns and Merkieann Burton, both psychology majors, presented with GSU faculty and Research Club advisor, Dr. Frances Staten in a round table session, dedicated in loving memory and appreciation to Mr. Lugene Davis Jr. The title of the round table was “Empowering The Elderly and Youth Via Intergenerational Programs and Volunteerism.”

The club members specifically shared information on the contribution of a senior volunteer, Lugene Davis Jr. (who recently passed March 2005), in assisting the club in researching longevity in the rural Black community, which has resulted in the establishment of the Lugene Davis Jr. Longevity Research/Travel Award. The club also presented a video on Grambling’s Intergenerational Mentoring Program, which was, founded by New Rocky Valley and China Grove Baptist Churches; Dr. Walter Davis serves as the director.

Aaron Johnson, senior sociology major, presented the components of the Longevity project “Black Centenarians/Super Centenarians in the New Millennium”. Centenarians are persons who have lived for 100 plus years, whereas super centenarians have lived 110 plus years.

Since the founding of the Longevity project in 1993 by Dr. Staten and several social science majors, 20 centenarians and three super centenarians have been interviewed. Recently Johnson, and other Social Research Club members, Monica McNeely, Crystal Harris, and Rev. James Smith, interviewed the oldest person in the United States and third oldest in the world, Bettie Wilson. For his presentation, Johnson utilized information from the Internet, the personal interview and videotaping of Ms. Wilson.

Anthony Dale and Gregory Fields, psychology and sociology majors, respectively presented in a round table session, titled, “Youth and Elderly Perspectives on George Bush’s Social Security Proposal”. They compared GSU’s Social Research Club survey findings on “Attitudes Towards President George Bush’s Proposal regarding Social Security Accounts’ with findings from The Pew Research Center for the People and The Press”. This new research venture will become an ongoing research project in collaboration with Alcorn, Southern, and North Carolina A&T State Universities.

GSU faculty and students said the conference was an excellent opportunity for sharing knowledge, interacting, and networking with other conference participants. It was a great honor to represent GSU amongst other HBCU’s and to receive high commendations from presentations and ongoing research activities.

Prior to departure the GSU group toured the North Carolina A&T campus and the historical monument dedicated to four students who initiated the sit-in movement of the Civil Rights Movement.