By: Emily Topczewski
Summer 2014 Communications Intern
Senior majoring in journalism
Ellen “Ellie” Nocun is the director at Luther Manor Adult Day Services, moving up after she was hired on as part of the person-centered care services team. She completed her Graduate Certificate in Applied Gerontology in 2012. “I’m now leading the program,” she said, “And the certificate provided the experience and knowledge to take on that role.”
Before completing the graduate certificate, Ellie graduated with a bachelor’s degree in visual art. “I wanted to use art with people or in human services,” she said, “but I did not want to work with children.” She had some experience as a caregiver for a family member with dementia, which sparked an interest in understanding the connection of aging and art.
“I wanted to do more research and understand the system itself,” she said. She was interested in the relationship between arts and dementia, and in “working with dementia in a way that wasn’t pharmalogical.” This interest led her back into the classroom at UWM, where she completed the certificate and hopes one day, there will be an opportunity for a Master’s degree in gerontology.
“What I really enjoyed about the program was the ability to customize it to what I needed it to be,” she said, “There were required classes but the classes that I was able to choose, like Grant Writing, allowed me to shape the program to my vision – which was awesome.”
Her favorite courses covered topics like death and dying and public policy, and she’s even kept the project from the public policy course as a reference in her career. “It made me think about program development and rethink leadership skills,” she said, “It made the work more encompassing and taught me about how the work I do in Milwaukee can be applicable to many things across the country and even internationally.”
Ellie quickly moved up in her career at Luther Manor Adult Day Services. Luther Manor designs and facilitates programs for aging adults that encourage physical and mental health, social connections, and personal growth. It’s been a staple to the local community since the end of the twentieth century.
While studying at UWM, Ellie was able to take her interest in the connection of aging and art and apply that to a future in human services. “It introduced me to other disciplines within health institutions and academia and how they focus on gerontology,” she said, “It inspired me create ways for adults to engage in their own communities and support their own health. She is confident that the graduate certificate helped launch her career in gerontology. “I was an artist. Coming up from this entry level ‘in the trenches’ position,” she said, “and moving up to be the director is directly influenced by the certificate and the UWM commitment to connecting and influencing communities.”
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Graduate Certificate in Applied Gerontology!
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