Looking down the road
As Baby Boomers approach the golden
years, are they ready?
By Amanda Hosey '03
born during the post-World War II "baby boom" have never let themselves
be ignored. Their numbers alone -- 76 million to 78 million -- assure that they
will be reckoned with.
these boomers are headed for retirement, and they are expected to have
a dramatic effect on U.S. economic and health-care resources.
or social trend has had, or likely will have, a greater impact," says
nursing Associate Professor Charles Walker.
gerontology nurse and boomer himself, defines a baby boomer as anyone
born between June 1, 1946, and Dec. 31, 1964. The population is subdivided
into early boomers and late boomers, with each group sharing experiences.
remember the 'American Dream,' " Walker said. "They lived in a time of
political optimism and a thriving economy. Late boomers, however, remember
political cynicism, scandals such as Watergate and a strained economy
that included waiting in lines for gasoline with their parents."
taken a long, scientific look at several concepts regarding boomers' preparedness
for the challenges that come with aging. He calls it their readiness factor.
refers to the cognitive and emotional forces that must be in place in
order for a person to master a developmental task," he explained.
approach the benchmark for retirement (the oldest members of the generation
will turn 65 in 2011), Walker's study lists three criteria for determining
their readiness: fearlessly dealing with uncertainty, accepting physical
change and doing what's possible to prepare for the future.
comes to facing uncertainties, young, financially secure, married women
are most adept," he said. "Ethnic minorities, particularly African Americans,
are best able to accept physical changes that come with age. Effectively
dealing with physical changes involves the ability to unite the youthful
self with the aging self."
that women who hold advanced degrees are the boomers most likely to do
everything they can to prepare for aging in mid-life. "Research indicates
that these individuals place high priority on concerns like nutrition,
exercise, taking prescriptions as directed, nurturing relationships and
retaining retirement accounts and additional life insurance."
Men and women
approach aging differently. For women, menopause is an undeniable sign
that they're entering a new phase. "This may explain why women are able
to be more ready," Walker said. "They approach aging with a 'zealous patience';
they're willing to await the inevitable."
Men, on the
other hand, perceive aging more conceptually, "as an event that will occur
in the distant future," Walker said. But men who live to be 65 or older
"experience more feelings of personal efficacy than their female counterparts."
he said, research has shown that "chronological age is not a predictor
of aging readiness, but gender and ethnicity are."
aging readiness should help researchers more accurately predict health
outcomes and hopefully help society handle the growing nursing shortage
in the next few decades.
will put a major strain on health-care resources," he said, "heightening
the need for more health-care providers."
Walker at email@example.com.
Life in the little house
Even after 137 years, Laura Ingalls
Wilder has a few lessons for us. Luther Clegg wants to share them.
By Jaime Walker '02
didn't discover Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie
books until one of the Muleshoe 6th-graders he was teaching in 1957 raved
about them. That single glowing endorsement sparked such deep interest
that countless others have benefited since.
who taught children's literature courses at TCU until his retirement as
Emeritus Professor of Education in May, immersed himself in Wilder's stories,
and since 1957, the author's life has become a passion. Clegg is a foremost
Wilder myth-breaker, carefully deciphering the differences between Laura
(the lead character of the popular children's books), Laura (of the television
series) and the real Laura -- the wife and mother who at age 65 penned
memoirs to market as children's fiction.
I was drawn to Laura for several reasons," he explained. "But what I have
learned over the years is that there is something about her experience
that resonates with all of us in some way, even if the life we live is
dramatically different than it was back then."
12 in a line of 13 brothers and sisters, the 70-year-old professor's early
life in Fisher County in West Texas wasn't far from the rural environment
Wilder vividly depicts. He remembers heating a brick in the wood stove
so he could warm his feet during the bus ride to school, which took more
than an hour.
to what many of the children he talks with seem to think, Clegg was not
the author's contemporary. His father, however, was born in 1873, just
five years after Wilder. And the stories Joseph Frank Clegg told did mirror
the book to some extent.
memories aren't the only thing that motivated Luther Clegg to devote his
adult years to researching Wilder. What drove him in the 1970s to spend
family vacations touring the places where she grew up, raised her family
and lived happily with her husband for more than 60 years went deeper
"At the heart
of it I want people to understand the life she led," he said. "I want
their appreciation to go beyond what they see on TV or read about. I want
them to learn more about Laura Ingalls Wilder the person."
took him to rural towns throughout the Midwest. With each stop, each new
fact, his enthusiasm grew. He has made more than 150 presentations so
that others will know the woman behind the books.
"In a society
full of television images showcasing violence, crime and sex, understanding
more about Wilder and the times in which she lived can help the young
people of this generation find some of the morality and sense of purpose
we seem to have lost over the years."
also documents the history and traditions of one-room schoolhouses, said
the two passions mesh with his personal experiences. His mother attended
and taught in a one-room schoolhouse similar to the one Wilder describes
in her books.
the people he interviewed for his 1997 book, Empty Schoolhouse: Memories
of One-Room Texas Schools, remember the early 1900s with astonishing
detail. There are lessons to be learned from their tales -- ones that could,
according to Clegg, begin: Life was hard. We lived off the land, did
our chores in the early morning hours or evening, walked two miles uphill
to go to school all day and then came home to work some more.
lesson might be that life is too short to take what you have for granted,"
not start writing her books until the end of her life. Many of the early
stories she tells must have been from memories of her parents' explanations
because she would have been only 2 or 3 years old at the time. She finished
in 1943. She was 76. Some say she originally intended to write about her
adult life experience, but when she got down to it, childhood was just
maybe that's why Wilder's books are so universal. Maybe that's why when
he presented at the National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame in February to
commemorate Wilder's 136th birthday, the place was packed. But whatever
the reason, one thing is clear about his long-running love affair with
the author's life:
"I have received
tremendous personal benefit from getting to know more about her. We make
the world a little bit better each time we learn to care for our history,
embrace our tradition and remember the past as we look forward."
Clegg at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book is available through Amazon.com
and local bookstores.
Fashioning an education
Fashion merchandising majors step out
with their designer shoe forward.
By Amanda Hosey '03
majors seem to have the franchise on glamorous internships. They spend
their time wrapped in the hottest and sometimes most innovative design
and fashion shops in the world. They study under heavy-hitters like Chanel
and Escada. They spend their days at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom or the Gap.
You might say they have a "ramped" up education.
all required. Students in TCU's design, merchandising and textiles department
must enroll in an upper-level course that takes them, literally, around
the country as interns in the fashion industry.
nearly 60 fashion students find these internships because their professors
are so, well, fashionable. And well-connected. Sally Fortenberry, faculty
internship coordinator and former chair of the department, seems to know
everyone in the industry, and that opens doors to internships at Pier
1, Neiman Marcus, Harolds, Ralph Lauren Children's Wear and Nordstrom
locally; Foley's and Garden Ridge in Houston; Nordstrom, the Gap, The
Buckle and Talbot's in Chicago; and Liz Claiborne in Atlanta. And the
list goes on.
the ultimate destination is the Big Apple, where this summer eight students
found themselves dressed up at top dogs Moschino, Gaulthier, DKNY and
Jeffery of New York, one of the hottest retail boutiques in the city these
days. Jeffery caters to celebrities and many consider it the center of
a new SoHo. In the big city the students extracted lessons as they promoted
fashion through public relations and fashion merchandising.
of experience is essential. When a fashion editor from a commercial or
trade publication requests certain pieces from the collection for a photo
spread, these students are responsible for bringing in the collection,
inventorying and photographing it, and filling the request. Then they
ship the pieces to the magazine and follow up after the shoot, Fortenberry
said. "The idea is to get the brand seen in as many places as possible."
interns help organize and run preseason shows for fashion editors. This
summer's interns found models and put pieces together for an in-house
showing of their designers' spring '04 lines.
interns deal with logistics and sales. Senior Aimee Blevins interned for
the senior account executive for designer Donna Karan's menswear line,
DKNY Men. The Edmond, Okla., native said that living in New York was a
"culture shock" but that she has grown to love the energy of the city.
The internship has given her "a great handle" on what it's like to work
in the real world.
believe that I have grown as a person, as well as improved skills I already
possessed," she said. "The best learning experience for me was participating
in market, which is when DKNY presents a season's collection to different
buyers from all over the U.S. and Canada."
Blevins helped set up the showroom, assisted the executives during their
appointments, helped with model fittings ("a definite perk") and even
helped present an appointment toward the end of market.
them ask me to show an appointment was a huge compliment, as it showed
trust and confidence in me from the executives," she said.
was able to land her internship because of the unique relationship TCU
has developed with the companies. Fortenberry said that New York internship
sites continually ask for TCU interns "because of their positive attitudes
Part of the
reason the program is so successful is because the students establish
objectives they need to meet while there. Fortenberry then follows up
during the 10-week internship with a personal visit to the store, a practice
not typical of other programs. "By having specifics they want to learn,
the students get the best, most well-rounded exposure to that organization,"
she said. "Our internship program is designed to provide a win-win situation
for the students and supervisors.
all involved to benefit from the experience."
Fortenberry at email@example.com.