Madison Fortier '19 works with locals as part of the Cyber Seniors program.

Making Tech Accessible to Seniors

Imman Merdanovic ’17

The young spirit of St. Lawrence’s students combined with a senior’s passion and willingness to learn is a recipe for success, going beyond the classroom. Each week, as part of the Cyber Seniors community program, senior citizens from the Canton/Potsdam area come to the St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging to learn basic computer skills from St. Lawrence students.

Cyber Seniors is a program designed to help senior citizens use technology. St. Lawrence student volunteers teach participants how to use software applications like Microsoft Word and Excel as well as the basics of Facebook and web browsing. The effort is part of a community-based learning (CBL) project designed to foster a civically engaged commitment to the common good and life in the North Country.

Isabella Sapio ’20 says the program has added a whole new dimension to her first-year experience. “During the class, we show on the projector how to do each step and then we ask the seniors to try it themselves,” Isabella says. “By the end, we want the participants to have learned a broad range of skills on the computer.”

Danielle Durant, advocate for the elderly at the St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging, has been working with student volunteers for years. “One important aspect of the presence of the students is the rapport they build with the participants,” she says. “The seniors enjoy talking to the students and most importantly get to know them on a personal level.”

Students work closely with a mentor and community partners to develop their own leadership skills and reflect on their learning outcomes. Rachel Muckin ’18, a community mentor, oversees the students that are placed within the program. “The outcome of our hard-work is being able to put smiles on people’s faces every week,” Rachel says. “It is extremely rewarding.”

In fact, both Isabella and Rachel have recognized the value of helping the local community. “Giving back is probably the most impactful and beneficial thing anyone can do,” Rachel says.

To learn more about St. Lawrence’s community-based learning, visit St. Lawrence's Center For Civic Engagement on the web.