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Q&A With a Social Worker and Educator Focused on Aging

Stria Staff March 11, 2019
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Cal J. Halvorsen, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor at the Boston College School of Social Work and an Encore Public Voices Fellow. We asked for his perspective on the field.

Stria is creating a series of Q&As with young people working in the longevity market to elevate new perspectives and explore the views of future leaders in our field. 

When it comes to growing older, what do you think Americans care about most?

In my experience, Americans want to have choices in all aspects of their lives. It is important that people have choices in where and how they live, who they spend time with, and when and how (and if) they work. In a major sense, I see my work as one small part of this larger agenda.

What led you to become a longevity market entrepreneur? How did you get started in the field?

I am a proud gerontological social worker. I was first introduced to social work through my family, as several children who were in foster care lived in my home growing up. All of my applications to graduate schools of social work were focused on the child welfare system, a topic that I am still passionate about. Yet I was also very close to my grandparents and was struck by how they didn’t just keep busy, but kept a feeling of purpose. I decided to pursue this path in social work to build more opportunities for purposeful lives—however people define it for themselves—later in life.

What do you think older people working in aging and the longevity market don’t understand younger people working in the field?

It takes a good mix of people to work toward better lives for all. Those who work on issues of aging or directly with older adults have a lot of experience, and younger people can bring a whole new set of skills and experiences to the table.

Building a multigenerational workforce isn’t always easy, but it is one aspect of developing a more diverse workforce that can uncover new ideas, innovations, and passions to promote longer, healthier and happier lives.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?

None of us are perfect, so take rejection as an opportunity to improve. I work in a field where rejection is the norm. Early on as a doctoral student, I was forced to grow thick skin as my articles would get rejected by journals and receive pages of critiques—sometimes constructive, and sometimes just plain rude. Yet nearly every time, my work became better as a result, either because I realized the reviewers were right or because I realized I needed to explain my arguments better. So put your ideas out there, get rejected and get better!


WANT MORE FROM CAL HALVORSEN? HERE’S THE BOOK HE RECOMMENDS TO LONGEVITY MARKET PROFESSIONALS.

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