M. Aaron Guest

Q&A with M. Aaron Guest, MPH, MSW, from the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Gerontology in Lexington, Kentucky.

guestMeet Aaron.

"[when] I see a colleague or someone I have met through GSA or at the annual meeting I am reminded what multi-faceted and and multi-layered field gerontology is. I love that feeling! Gerontologist are everywhere, we just have to make ourselves heard!"

Q: How long have you been a GSA member?
A: I became a member of GSA during my Masters program the recommendation of a colleague when my interest slowly started shifting to older adults and populations and I was looking for a place that could foster these connections. Since then, as they say, there has been very little looking back! I have had the opportunity to present at the GSA Annual Meeting and I will be completing a two-year term as an ESPO Representative to the Membership Committee in November.

Q: How has membership in GSA benefited you?
A: In my time as a member I have found that GSA is a welcoming professional and academic home. I have had the opportunity to network with some of the brightest minds in Gerontology and to meet people that you often ‘read about’. I have found GSA Connect to be a wonderful resource and community to find new ideas, learn about new resources, and to reach out when I am confused or wanting clarification on something. The whole of the organization, from the annual meeting to the newsletters, really make me feel part of the larger Gerontological community.

Q: How did you get interested in the field of aging?
A: My path to the field of aging was a very serendipitous one. If I am going to trace it back the first glimmer was there during my senior year of my undergraduate program (a great time to make a life change!) when I was completing my senior thesis. Although I was focusing on LGBT leadership and community organizations, issues of age and health continued to rise to the top. At the time, I was really unsure what I could do with this whole notion of ‘aging’. As I started out in my Masters programs though, focusing on public health and social work, and had the opportunity to complete assistantships and practicums around health and community development I began to see the way that aging, environment, and health and intimately intertwined. It was a culmination of these experiences that eventually lead me to slowly change my focus to one that was consumed with aging. Personally, I was also lucky to be surrounded by grandparents and great-grandparents growing up. As I move forward the experiences I had and continue to have with them has shaped my work.

Q: Why is it important for other individuals to join GSA?
A: GSA serves as the foremost society of aging scholars and professionals. At its heart is a broad membership base, that when together, serves to advance the science and art of working with and for our aging populace across the lifespan. I can think of no other group I would rather be associated with!

Q: What are your key responsibilities at your job?
A: As I am currently pursuing my PhD in Gerontology at the University of Kentucky my main responsibility, as my advisors remind me constantly, is workings towards my dissertation. I am also lucky to be able to assist in the education of undergraduate students in gerontology through our Gerontology 250 Course: Aging in Today’s World. Through this, we are able to introduce gerontology to a broad range of students from a variety of disciplines.

Q: What has been your most memorable experience in gerontology and aging research?
A: Rather than one moment or one experience, I think that whenever I am at another meeting, conference, or event- especially one not explicitly focused on aging- and I see a colleague or someone I have met through GSA or at the annual meeting I am reminded what multi-faceted and and multi-layered field gerontology is. I love that feeling! Gerontologist are everywhere, we just have to make ourselves heard!

Q: Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists?
A: They are old sayings, but they are how I try to live my life and how I encourage others to: You’ll never know unless you try and If you don’t ask the question you won’t know the answer. As an emerging professional myself I always seek to challenge myself in new ways, while also seeking guidance from those who may have experienced it before.

Q: Tell us a little about your most recent activities/accomplishments?
A: Currently, I am finishing up work on a project looking at social work safety in the field. I am also finalizing some work, with one of my mentors, on Cancer Survivorship and Return to work, and hope to be completing some data collection in the field around older adults and spatial movement in Appalachia this summer.

Q: Have you had an important mentor in your career? If so, how did it make a difference?
A: Luckily, I have been surrounded my wealth of mentors throughout all levels of my education. These mentors, people such as Heather Brandt, Beth Hunter, John Watkins, Darcy Friedman, GSA Member Daniela Friedman, as well as GSA Fellows Nancy Schoenberg, and Graham Rowles have come from both inside and outside the field of aging. The constant guidance of these individuals, whether it be a listening ear or providing much needed feedback, has helped me more than I can every repay them.

Want to ask Aaron a question? Contact him on GSA Connect!

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