Siena Lakes Residents Have Countless Educational Opportunities Right on Campus

June 12, 2024
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Education has always been a way of life for Coby and Robert Simerly. As former college professors and deans focused on instruction, academics, and curriculum, they place a high priority on learning. 

So, it comes as no surprise that when they were researching retirement communities, the educational opportunities at Siena Lakes, an Erickson Senior Living community in Naples, Fla., caught their eye. 

"When we first visited campus, they were holding presentations by Florida Gulf Coast University [FGCU]in the sales office," says Coby. "We thought that was wonderful and were really quite taken with it."

She adds, "We were interested in the wide variety of talks being offered, so we attended them for close to a year before we even moved in."

Since moving into their two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath apartment home at Siena Lakes in March 2022, the Simerlys have continued attending those presentations--and discovered many new ones.

College-level learning

Resident Event Coordinator Brittanee Kakar coordinates the program, working with a representative from FGCU to line up university professors to speak at Siena Lakes each month. 

Some past sessions have been Codebreaking During WWII, iPhone and iPad Tips and Tricks, and Apollo 11--We are going back!

"Residents don't even have to sign up for these lectures," says Kakar. "They are open to anyone who shows up!"

All the talks are held in the community's Life Enrichment Center and usually last an hour--or more, if residents have a lot of questions or a lively discussion.

"Topics vary from month to month," says Coby, "and a different professor will come on campus for each session." 

Residents find out about new FGCU programs and other educational events in their weekly newsletter, about a month in advance, so they can determine which ones they'd like to attend.

"I check them out and put them all on my calendar!" says Coby.

In addition to FGCU's educational talks, residents often suggest local and intriguing speakers to the Resident Life team. 

"We go to all the presentations that are offered--usually three or four each week," Coby says.

"They're excellent," agrees resident Joan Vazakas. "I'm interested in a lot of things, so whatever enrichment comes my way is great!"

In fact, Joan suggested speaker Steve Yussen, who presented Book Clubs in America: Past, Present, and Future.

Music and more

A musician by avocation who played both violin and piano in various orchestras throughout her life, Joan has used her expertise to develop music-related events. 

Students from the Music Foundation of Greater Naples played at a recent event, and this past spring, she arranged for adult musicians from the foundation to speak about and play some musical pieces. 

Other presentations that resulted from resident suggestions are Understanding Modern Art: The Transition from Renaissance to Modern Art; Art of the 19th Century French Salon and The Rebellion Known as the Impressionist Movement; What Happened to America's Amusement Parks; Learn to Live More Joyfully; and Nature of Siena Lakes and Naples. 

"The one on amusement parks was absolutely fascinating," says Coby. "I didn't know about their history, like where they began and that there are four different kinds of amusement parks."

Making new friends

Although learning is the reason why Coby and Robert began attending Siena Lakes lectures, they've gained another benefit they weren't expecting: making new friends.

"One of the reasons I look forward to going to the talks so often is because of the other residents who will be there. It's another place on campus to make friends," says Coby. "These educational opportunities give us another venue to meet, interact, and communicate with people who share similar interests."

After the presentations conclude, residents will often continue talking about what they learned, heard, saw, and felt. 

"The topics become a basis for conversation--whether it's over wine or dinner," she says. "We talk about what we learned and liked about it."

Looking ahead

Joan looks forward to all the lectures ahead and all the new faces she'll get to meet. 

"I think that the more we learn, the more interesting we become, giving us other things to talk about," she says. "That's one reason why I enjoy this continuing education."

To learn more about senior living at this vibrant community, request your free brochure to get the scoop on amenities, floor plans, and so much more.

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