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Slippery Rock University students share legacy of seniors

Julianna Lueck, left, speaks with Buck Bachura who she interviewed for her class project. Lueck said she loved learning about Bachura’s life. Zach Petroff/Butler Eagle

BUTLER TWP — Slippery Rock student Julianna Lueck’s voice started to shake as she told the story of Buck Bachura’s life. Standing in the middle of the Lowrie Place dining hall, Lueck spoke about her experience getting to know Bachura.

“We spent a lot of time talking about his childhood, adolescence, adulthood and older adulthood,” Lueck said. “But more specifically, we spent a lot of time talking about his family.”

Sitting beside Bachura was his daughter, Deb Morris, whose eyes filled with tears as Lueck addressed her directly.

“He really loves you guys,” Lueck said. “He spoke with such fondness, admiration and pride. His children are his pride and joy.”

On Tuesday, April 9 at the Butler Township retirement community, Lueck and other third-year Slippery Rock University students presented their semester long “legacy” projects to residents and their families. Lueck is one of 13 students in associate professor Betsy Kemeny’s organization management class for recreational therapy.

Associate professor Dr. Betsy Kemeny, left, of the Recreational Therapy Department at Slippery Rock University partnered with Carol Wagner, right, Lowrie Place director of resident programming, for a project where students interview residents and present their stories. Cindy Naughton, center, is executive director of Lowrie Place. Students presented projects to the residents and their families Tuesday at the Butler Township retirement community. Chris Leisie/Special to the Eagle

The community project paired students with a resident, tasking the student to get to know their partner and prepare a detailed report on what they learned about their cross-generational subjects.

“Basically, (the project had) the students, over a period of four or five different visits, ask the residents a series of questions about their background,” Kemeny said. “It’s a way of preserving some stories about their life.”

The project also helped students with communicative skills, said the professor.

“It’s beneficial for students to learn more about how to ask questions, how to have conversations with older adults,” she said. “A lot of them will one day be working with older adults.”

Along with experience and communication skills, some of the students were able to walk away with another valuable byproduct of the class — a new friend.

Leroy Crawford reads his “legacy book” created by Slippery Rock student Stephanie Sorensen. Zach Petroff/Butler Eagle

“I think we’ll be lifelong friends now,” said Leroy Crawford, who was partnered with SRU student Stephanie Sorensen for the project.

Sorensen said she was able to take away many life lessons after speaking with Crawford that she will be able to use in her future career.

“Being in a health care profession, it’s really important to see a person as whole and … how you can relate to each other,” Sorensen said. “Just having all those aspects from your life and ability to apply it to their life and vice versa, it’s almost symbiotic. I think it’s going to be something I use a lot.”

Not all the rehabilitation students who volunteered for the project planned on going into elder care. Brianna Kilgore said initially she thought she wanted to focus her career around helping juveniles who struggle with mental health, but the project may have changed her mind.

“I loved it,” Kilgore said. “I just felt like I didn’t really have an interest in older adults, but every time I work with them, I start to change my mind a little bit, because I love it.”

Slippery Rock University students recently worked with residents of Lowrie Place in Butler Township for a project that helps to preserve the residents’ legacies. Zach Petroff/Butler Eagle
Slippery Rock University junior Riley Kukla, right, interviewed former Zelienople resident Bill Lieb for a project, where students interview residents and presented their stories Tuesday at the Lowrie Place in Butler Township. Chris Leisie/Special to the Eagle
Edna Brown, of Portersville, left, listens as Slippery Rock University junior Mattie Heslink presents Brown’s story Tuesday night at Lowrie Place in Butler Township. Chris Leisie/Special to the Eagle
Slippery Rock University junior Mattie Heslink, left, interviewed Edna Brown of Portersville and presented her story Tuesday night at Lowrie Place in Butler Township. Chris Leisie/Special to the Eagle
Slippery Rock University junior, Jazia Sanders, left, poses for a picture with Tom Hughes of Butler. Sanders told Hughes’ life story for a project presented Tuesday at Lowrie Place in Butler Township. Chris Leisie/Special to the Eagle
Loretta Rea, left, and Racheal Blose were paired up for Slippery Rock University’s pilot program that paired rehabilitation students with a senior citizen. Zach Petroff/Butler Eagle

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