Residents of donned mortarboards and received diplomas Monday to celebrate the completion of the fall 2011 Gerontechnology Computer Class.
Earlier in the year, residents from United Hebrew’s nursing home, assisted living facility and senior housing were paired with Pace University students to learn computer skills, said Linda Forman, vice president of community relations at United Hebrew.
"This helps residents feel they are not left behind," she said, "that they can learn a new skill at their age."
Forman said the students working with the seniors form close friendships "that last beyond the class."
Soundview Senior Apartments resident James Flynn completed the classes.
"It was just interesting," he said. "I thought it would be helpful to learn something new—expanding my horizons."
Flynn said he plans on using the computer to keep better informed about his financial investments.
The program is done in cooperation with Pace University.
Jean Coppola, assistant professor in the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University, said the seniors and the students benefit from the program.
She said that data from the program found both made significant changes.
"On the senior end, there's an increase in cognitive function and a decrease in depression," Coppola said.
Nick Staropoli, 21, is a Pace University junior studying finance. He said he'd been helping his grandfather learn the computer so it wasn't too difficult transitioning his teaching ability to United Hebrew's residents.
Staropoli said the experience has given him more patience and a better ability to develop relationships.
"I also have a better understanding of the ways the elderly think and take in information," he said.
Working with the seniors also helped him to think on his feet and figure out different ways to present what he's trying to teach.
All in all, Staropoli enjoyed the classes.
"It was fun," he said.