Serving the Elderly


Recent graduate Marleigh Thompson '12 of Bennington, Vt., attended a local community college before she transferred to MCLA. While she'd originally planned to become a teacher, once on campus she made the switch to sociology, and decided to minor in social work.

After serving an internship at a nearby nursing home, she's headed to a career in geriatric social work.

Working with the elderly was new to Thompson. She chose to serve her internship at Williamstown Commons because "it seemed really interesting." Ultimately, she found the work and the one-on-one interactions she shared with the people she served to be very satisfying.

"Being placed in a nursing home can be a very scary, depressing feeling for many of the residents. Many of them are close to passing away or are aware that they could be in a nursing home for the rest of their lives," she explained.

"The thing I most enjoyed was getting to talk to the residents. I have developed skills from taking classes and from my internship in learning how to talk to the residents about what can be some difficult issues. I also enjoyed just getting to know the residents and sitting and chatting with them."

The best part of the experience, Thompson said, was learning hands-on skills she will take with her as she furthers her career goals. After working for a while to gain more experience, she plans to pursue master's degree in social work, and eventually work in the area of long-term care for the elderly at a nursing home, or through an elder services or a home health care agency.

In addition to working with the elderly Thompson had experiences with children and young adults. Last semester, as part of a course she took on juvenile delinquency, she conducted a field study at the Center for Restorative Justice in Bennington, Vt. There, she gathered information on how the agency ran, including about its funding mechanisms and its programs.

"I learned a lot from the field study, and I was able to apply to what I had learned in my juvenile delinquency course."

In retrospect, Thompson feels she matured quite a bit from her experience as an MCLA student.

"I really focused on my work and tried to achieve what I wanted to. I learned so much while attending MCLA," she said.

"I absolutely loved the sociology department," she continued. "All of my professors had major impacts on me. I was able to learn so much within the three semesters I was in the sociology department as I finished my major/minor requirements.

"The small classroom sizes always allowed for interesting discussions, and allowed you to develop relationships with your professors. Every professor I had was always willing to help with anything that I had trouble with and would answer any questions I had. It was a really great experience."

According to Thompson, she gained more insight about people in general at MCLA - how they act and think, and about society as a whole. Now, "I tend to think more outside of the box when I am interacting with others, or just walking down the street."