Bringing Your Life to Life

USD Psychology Professor Emeritus Gerald Sperrazzo, PhD,


The University of the Third Age (U3A) is USD’s longest-running community outreach program. This year marks its 40th anniversary of successfully keeping those 55 and older engaged and informed. 

Diana Brotherton-Ware is a second-generation U3A attendee. Her parents took part back when U3A was brought to USD by General Victor Krulak, and supported by then-USD President Author Hughes and his wife, Marge.

“I’d hear wonderful stories every January and July about what they’d learned,” she recalls. “They were so enthusiastic about it that I put it on my bucket list to attend when I retired from teaching. I’ve been coming regularly for 12 years and I’ve been an enthusiastic participant ever since.”

The program offers topical information from experts such as police officers, medical doctors, lawyers, authors, USD faculty and a popular librarian who makes book recommendations.

“I love the six weeks with the University of the Third Age students,” says Director Jodi Waterhouse. “There’s no age limit to learning something new. These are sharp, bright, community-minded and successful people.”

Lois Hodik fits that description. A U3A attendee since 2006, Hodik is among a group of student ambassadors that Waterhouse relies on for feedback to maintain the program’s effectiveness.

“There are so many things happening in the community, in science, at this and other universities, or on the border,” Hodik says. 

Program highlights include field trips to interesting places, such as a tour of the San Diego Repertory Theatre, an excursion to the tarmac at San Diego’s airport and a behind-the-scenes visit to an operating room in a Mercy hospital ship docked at the San Diego harbor.

Waterhouse takes care to keep offerings fresh — topics and speakers tend not to repeat. “I love to challenge each session with new topics and information that attendees might not otherwise seek out on their own,” says Waterhouse.

It’s not uncommon for participants to learn about things on the leading edge. “In our household, we have what’s called the ‘U3A effect,’” Hodik says. “Oftentimes, within a month or two of the speakers you’ve heard at U3A, you’ll see them in news headlines.” As a regular attendee with 25 sessions under her belt, she says she’s saved all of the folders of information from past years, going back to refer to useful tidbits on a regular basis.

“This is an important program,” says Agnes West-Kohler, a 1965 graduate of the San Diego College for Women and a U3A attendee for six years. “There are so few opportunities for seniors to gather and listen to marvelous speakers who are interested in us and interested in telling this population what they’re doing and what they’re contributing to San Diego.”

Hodick, too, finds tremendous value in the sessions. “Those of us who come here regularly travel, volunteer and work out, but we put all of that aside twice a year,” she says.

“We don’t make travel plans in January or June because we know we’re coming to U3A. It’s already written on our calendars. This has become our university of choice.” — Ryan T. Blystone

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Photo of USD Psychology Professor Emeritus Gerald Sperrazzo, PhD (above) by Nick Abadilla. 


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