Intergenerational bonding at K-State’s Grandparents U

By Bethany Knipp

Children and their grandparents bridged the generation gap this week as the kids experienced college for the first time, while their elders went back to school.

From Sunday through today, 31 people attended Grandparents University, an event for Kansas State University alumni and their grandchildren ages 8 to 12.

“We did want to give them as much of the college experience as we could,” program coordinator Teara Lander said.

For two nights and three days, the families stay in the dorms, take tours of K-State’s campus and do educational and recreational activities such as dorm decorating, bridge building at the College of Engineering and swimming at Ahearn Natatorium.

For Harvey Rosen, a resident of Cincinnati and 1968 K-State graduate, Grandparents University allowed him to spend quality time with one of his nine grandchildren, Jessica Pierce, 10, of Cumming, Ga.

“I’ve always wanted them to see this place,” Rosen said. “We’re enjoying the quality time together, and she’s getting to understand why I am who I am.”

Jessica said she’s had fun during her first trip to Kansas, visiting the Oz Museum in Wamego and going bowling at the K-State Student Union. She and her grandfather had a later flight today, which she said would allow them to see more of the area.

“(My grandpa) tries to spend alone time with each one of his grandchildren,” Jessica said. “So he thought this would be a really cool place to take me because he always thought of how I am and he was trying to think of an awesome thing to do with me, and he thought that I liked small cities and I’m really into school and all that stuff and decided to take me here once he found the Grandparent University thing.”

While working on making a green screen video in Bluemont Hall as one of the activities, Jessica said K-State is one of her options for college in eight years.

“I’m actually thinking about going to this school,” she said. “I think it’s an amazing school, and there are some awesome classes and courses and stuff here, and it’s a great place to be.”

Jessica said she’s particularly interested in science, so she said she enjoyed a food preparation activity she got to do on Monday in Justin Hall.

Rosen said he has always come back to K-State throughout the years because he’s a season-ticket holder, but he wishes other schools and non-alumni also had Grandparents University, which is in its second year at K-State.

“I know a lot of people my age have grandkids, and every one of them is envious of this program,” Rosen said.

Grandparents University is sponsored by the College of Education, but it includes alumni from any area of study.

The college’s dean, Debbie Mercer, initiated the program last year with 10 people attending the pilot Grandparents University.

“This year it’s tripled, which is very exciting for us,” Lander said.

Horton resident Betty Robison, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1972 and a master’s in 1978, attended the first Grandparents University last year with her grandson Dusty Robison, now 12, of Tonganoxie.

“He’s turned 12, so he won’t get to come again, and so he’s a little disappointed already in knowing that this is the last time, but he really enjoyed it last year and I think he’s really having a good time this year as well,” Robison said.

Robison said that while she enjoyed spending time with her grandson, she’s also been able to make friends with other alumni.

“For me it’s good that more of the alumni have chosen to be a part of this,” Robison said. “We’ve been reminiscing as we sit at lunches or at the meals – ‘Oh, I remember when’ – which tells how old we are,” she said.

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