Student Profile: Andrea Wadman

January 31, 2023

Andrea Wadman is currently working on her master’s degree in Gerontology. She completed her bachelor’s degree in History from the University of British Columbia. Andrea’s research will focus on social prescribing and how this relatively new approach to social care is being implemented for older adults in British Columbia.

Can you tell me how you became interested in Gerontology?

I have always been fascinated by life experiences and how a person’s life history influence who they are in the world, and how they cope with challenges. My interest in gerontology has evolved over my lifetime. In my late teens, my 99-year-old grandmother died on a large ward at Vancouver General Hospital after spending many months there as the result of a fall. It would have been impossible for the nursing staff to provide the kind of end-of-life care we talk about today, due to the patient-to-staff ratio. I was very distressed by these conditions, but I was unable to influence her care. In my late twenties, I opened a restaurant in Vancouver that served a large older adult population. My fondest memories about that period of my life are the opportunities I had to form relationships with those customers, who often came in daily. I went on to have three kids and while I was raising them began to support my mother, who was a widow and aging alone. She is now almost 93. It was the time I spent with her, watching her challenges, that drew me to gerontology. I started in the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma (PBD) program, but quickly realized I wanted an opportunity to delve deeper into this area of study, which is how I ended up where I am now.

Outside of school, are you involved in any research projects or community initiatives?

I am currently a research assistant working on a study that is exploring how senior centres promote the health and well-being of older adults, and how researchers and senior centres can collaborate to create a research agenda. I also volunteer with the Jewish Seniors Alliance (JSA) in their tablet program, which provides support and tech education to older adults who have received one of the JSA’s loaner tablets. In addition to these positions, I am also training to be an information and referral volunteer at the West End Senior’s Network.

What are your plans after you finish your program?

I am an older student, and I don’t have a long career left ahead of me, however, I would love to work part-time, either in the community or on research that provides organizations that serve older adults with information to support program development.

Andrea’s advice for prospective students interested in Gerontology:

1. Do not worry if you are not sure what your research focus will be. My focus changed after taking courses and the department is very supportive of a shift in interests.

2. Community volunteer work is valuable because it can expand your knowledge beyond classroom learning and help you identify potential research topics.

3. As an older student, I encourage other mature students to consider this program. I have discovered it is never too late, and if you want a department where students and staff are accepting and encouraging towards older students, this is the place to be.

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Celebrating 40 years