CSU, Chico News

Sociology Students Throw Party to Celebrate the Lives of Seniors

Date: 05-03-2007

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Cynthia Siemsen

Students in Professor Cynthia Siemsen’s Sociology of the Life course at California State University, Chico are giving a party for some of Chico’s senior citizens whom they have gotten to know during this semester. On Tuesday, May 15, from noon until 2 p.m. in BMU 210, students who have taken the oral histories of 18 people will present their stories to them.

Siemsen’s students read about the experiences of children during the Great Depression of the 1930s and then were paired with those in the community who were children at the time. “The course,” said Siemsen, “looks at the different phases people go through in life. One of the final phases is the need to pass on what you’ve learned to the next generation.”

One of the women who participated in this pairing between elders and students is Meg Quiggle, who has had a lifetime of service to Chico, especially in the area of improving life opportunities for girls and women. Siemsen and Summer Moore, who took Quiggle’s history, nominated her for the Senior Woman Maggie Award, and she was selected. The Maggie Awards, to be held May 3, recognize and celebrate amazing women on CSU, Chico’s campus and within the community.

“Meg has lived an incredible life of service, and we would not have known about her without this class,” said Siemsen. “She graduated from Stanford University in the ‘40s with a BA in child psychology. She was active in Menlo Park’s Girl Scouts and became the first field worker for Girl Scouts in San Jose. In Chico, she launched the Girl Scout Organization with Alice Starmer. She went on to be the executive director for Girl Scouts in Northern California. She was also the first president of Primetimers.”

Quiggle is only one of many inspiring stories. “The process of listening to the stories of these seniors helps students grasp one of the course’s key goals,” said Siemsen, “and that is understanding the intersection of biography and history. A bonus to the students and the seniors is the companionship that the students provide.”

The Sociology of the Life course is part of CSU, Chico’s educational model of service learning. In fall 2006, CSU, Chico was named one of 10 finalists for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Award.