Social Gerontologist Doctorate Candidate, Alzheimer's & Dementia Advocate
Miami University, Doctoral Student in Social Gerontology
University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, MS in Gerontology
Santa Clara University, Undergraduate Major in Psychology and Minor in Economics
Meet Katherine Kennedy, a gerontologist and Alzheimer's and Dementia advocate. Katherine studied psychology and economics at Santa Clara University. While in school, her grandfather was living with Alzheimer's Disease, and his experience inspired Katherine to continue on with her education to attain a MS in Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. In addition to completing undergraduate level coursework as part of Santa Clara's Gerontology Certificate Program, Katherine volunteered at the local Alzheimer's Activity Center, Mission Skilled Nursing & Sub-Acute Center and at the Santa Clara Senior Center.
While enrolled as a master's student at USC, Katherine gained valuable experience at the community level through internships, site visits and special class projects. She was a volunteer and Family Care Navigator at the USC Family Caregiver Support Center, a research assistant, an Operations Intern and Activities Assistant at Belmont Village Westwood and a resource employee through the Davis School. She also visited several retirement communities, skilled nursing facilities, and memory care communities to learn about the diversity of services. Katherine sought out the advice of several administrators regarding their work, management style and careers in the field of aging services. She also attended several conferences as a learning and networking opportunity, including CALA, CCGG, USC's What's Hot in Aging Research and USC's Family Caregiver Conference.
Upon completing her Masters Degree, Katherine led the memory and dementia care arm of a Life Plan Community after also working for Alzheimer's Orange County as part of their Outreach and Advocacy Department immediately following graduation. In Fall 2017, Katherine will be moving to Oxford, Ohio to pursue a PhD specializing in social gerontology at Miami University. The program will prepare her for an academic career in teaching students and doing research and program evaluations in community settings where she can build on her experience in memory care, programs for the cognitively impaired and family caregiver support.
Katherine's career advice: "I would encourage those interested in learning more about this field to start by volunteering as I did. Through multiple volunteer and work experiences, I was able to see and imagine the positive impact I could make in people's lives and how emotionally fulfilling it was and is everyday. I would also encourage networking and informal meetings with professionals in the field who can help guide you based on their own experiences."