SHU Senior Founds Program to Teach Computers Skills to Elderly

News Story: December 21, 2007

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Over the summer of 2007, Sacred Heart University senior Kristina Bostley says her grandparents bought a computer, an event quickly followed by countless questions about how to use it.

Then the Information Technology major returned to school for the fall semester, where she needed to conceive a service project for her involvement with Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the international computer science honor society.

“So I put two and two together, and teaching computers to the elderly just fit,” says Bostley, a resident of Yonkers, N.Y.

Thus was born a program, run by Bostley with the help of six other SHU students, that teaches computer use four times a week to a varying group of 10 to 15 seniors at the Eisenhower Senior Center in Bridgeport, Conn.

Bostley says that teaching the classes is harder than she’d anticipated, but that the experience with her grandparents helped her know exactly what the syllabus should include. “They’re mostly interested in how to use the internet—they want to get connected,” she says. “So we set them up with email addresses, and now they’re all about the emailing. And some people have started paying their bills online. Next we’re going to teach them how to shop online.”

The center had computers before the classes began, but Bostley says they were infrequently used, simply because few people knew how. “It’s like they were just waiting for someone to come in and help,” she says. “I feel good coming out of there, because they’re all really gracious about the fact that someone wanted to come and teach them. They seem very grateful.”

“I think it’s fabulous,” said Dr. Frances Grodzinsky, professor of Computer Science and Information Technology at SHU. “This is the first time that this honor society is up and running at Sacred Heart, and this is a fabulous initiation. The seniors are forever grateful—they’re loving it. Kristina even has some of our bilingual students down there in case there are questions in Spanish.”

The students working with Bostley are seniors Kim Sidorsky, Adam Rua, St. John Johnson, Evan Gillette and Marcelo Jacome-Flores, and Kristina’s sister, freshman Michelle Bostley.