OLLI member Suzette Westsmith in class

Suzette Westsmith of Camino, Calif. enjoyed a career serving in special education and with disadvantaged youth prior to retirement. She’s also a graduate of UC Davis with degrees in sociology and psychology. Suzette loves the rural beauty of her home in El Dorado county but feels retirees in the area are underserved when it comes to feeding the mind.

What drew you to OLLI at UC Davis?

Three things: affordability, program content and comradeship. I belonged to another OLLI before moving to Camino, which was more costly. I am thrilled that my OLLI offers such an amazing array of subject matter to choose from. Some quarters I sign up for as many as eight or 10 different classes. And it fits my schedule. Some classes are one time only, while others might be four or six weeks long – but they’re all fascinating!

What kind of comradeship do you find with OLLI?

It’s easy to get to know people here. There’s a warmth and sense of connection, because we’re all here to be fed culturally and we share a thirst for knowledge. People value that feeling when you walk into a room and someone waves you over and says, “it’s so good to see you.”

You make quite a commute to attend OLLI courses, don’t you?

It’s worth it. I have my little stops along the way – places that are special to me – but on the way down the hill, I’m filled with anticipation about what I’ll learn that day. OLLI teachers are so interesting and different – their variety of experience and knowledge makes this a really magical place to feed my mind.

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