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Natalie Shellito

Q&A with Natalie Shellito, MA, MS, BS, from the University of Massachusetts Boston in Boston, Massachusetts.

shellitoMeet Natalie.

"You can never know too many people and knowing more people also makes conferences more fun because you can reconnect. Building a relationship with one person may open up that person’s professional network to you for more possibilities for work, research and collaboration with others."

Q: Tell us a little about what you are doing right now.
A: I am in my third year as a PhD student in Gerontology. I turned in my qualifying exam at the end of April, so I am hoping to start my dissertation by the end of the summer. This summer I have an internship with the President of Boston City Council Andrea Campbell to work with the city on voter demographics and engaging older adults in the community. I also work for Mass Home Care which is the membership association for the Area Service Access Points (ASAPs) in the state of Massachusetts. The research area I am currently most interested in is issues facing the direct care workforce. Other research areas of interest include loneliness, social isolation, physical activity and aging, and subjective age.

Q: Tell us about your most recent activities and accomplishments.
A: I recently presented at the American Society on Aging conference and this was also my first year to attend ASA. I really enjoyed the conference and look forward to attending again. I was awarded a fellowship through the Civic Action Program which places graduate students with policy makers in the Boston area. I begin working with Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell on June 3.

Q: What are your motivations (inspirations) for studying aging?
A: I was really lucky to grow up living 5 miles away from my grandparents, so I was very close with them. Looking back, this must have planted the seed for me to pursue a career in aging. We have to work together to improve the systems of care for older adults and support the workforce upon whom we rely so heavily to care for aging loved ones.

Q: Tell us about your involvement in GSA. Which Section do you belong to?
A: I became a member of GSA when I began my PhD program in the fall of 2016, and I attended the meeting that year in New Orleans. I became a member of GSA because it is the biggest network and conference in the field of aging, and I wanted to expand and enhance my professional network. Also, the GSA conference is exciting because scholars present their most recent research, and it is a wonderful opportunity to connect with researchers and professionals from all over the world. I belong to the Behavioral and Social Sciences Section.

Q: How do you feel GSA serves the field of gerontology and aging research?
A: I think the GSA conference is one of the best forums to disseminate science and knowledge to other people working in various sectors related to aging. However, I do believe we have a responsibility as scientists to bring the knowledge we share through GSA to individuals who need information and resources, such as older adults themselves or caregivers.

Q: Is there anything unique about yourself and experiences that you would like to share?
A: I do not know if my career path would or will be considered “non-traditional”, but I do not plan to work in academia. To me, the landscape in the field of aging seems to change almost every day and I truly believe the possibilities for work and to make a difference in how we age globally are endless. Right now, I do not know exactly what my long-term career path will be, but I know I want to continue working in the applied world to implement changes to create a better work environment for direct care givers and improve the world for aging adults.

Q: Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists?
A: Although people may say this quite often, the best tip I can give to any emerging professional is to always be expanding your network. You can never know too many people and knowing more people also makes conferences more fun because you can reconnect. Building a relationship with one person may open up that person’s professional network to you for more possibilities for work, research and collaboration with others.

Want to ask Natalie a question? Contact her on GSA Connect!

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