Carnegie Mellon University


May 30, 2024

The Osher Stories: a day in the life from a Member's Point-of-View!

It’s no secret that Osher members like to write and tell stories. So we’d like to invite you to write a short piece – just like a diary or journal entry – about how you and why you started taking classes here or a favorite Osher experience.

The Osher Stories will help us become better acquainted and explain why the classes continue to enrich our lives. Submissions will be printed in our Weekly Essentials newsletter, otherwise known as the WE. We are suggesting 200 to 300 words, and you’ll write them in first person, telling your story in your own unique voice.

The deadline is Wednesday of each week. We’ll review and edit them before publication, reaching out if we have any questions. The goal will be to publish them that Friday, depending on the number of submissions and available space.

Questions? Send an email to

May 30, 2024

By Joel Sacks

The beginning of a poem
Emerges from my mind
Racing against the clock
During the opening exercise
Of the Writers Workshop.

I’m an old man now, inactive, lazy, retiree,
And the workshop has encouraged me,
To speak my piece in poetry,
And all because son Josh encouraged me,
With this, his woeful plea "Pick a damn course dad”

Read the past Osher Story entries

by Jan Hawkins

Dear Diary,

My goal in joining Osher at CMU was singular: to fill my retirement days with something other than boredom, loneliness, and the anticipated growing sense of worthlessness. After all, hadn’t life to date been about family obligations and career accomplishments.

Actually, let me correct that reference to “family obligations.” My family provides me with absolute joy. The truth is that the career often detracted from time with family. Somehow, though, they always understood, and I was able to further my self-actualization through increased responsibilities and world travel in a corporate role.

Retirement seemed to present a vacuous gap — at least for the Monday to Friday, nine-to-five window. What would I do with myself?

Since I joined Osher at CMU in 2016, nothing has been boring. For a few months, I served as a volunteer at the front desk in Hunt Library, answering phone calls and assisting members with registration questions. From there, I “promoted” to membership on the Human Resources Committee, and next to a term on the Board of Directors. The six years that I have served on the board have been challenging, rewarding, stressful and fulfilling — all at the same time.

An aspect of my Osher membership that brings greatest pleasure is meeting new people. New people — many of whom have become new friends. Our colleague, Jeffrey Holst (may he rest in peace), brought several of us together to celebrate working with flour and baking bread. Others — Thalia Snyder and Helen Wilson — encourage writing and the power of putting down in words our memories and dreams. My teammates, everyone of them, on the Board of Directors, I count them as personal friends. As I do also consider the members of our staff.

The circle of friends grows continuously. Bakers with floured hands. Writers producing poignant stories. What next?

Honestly, it is exciting now to realize that retirement is a thing of the past, a professional condition that I do not need to experience. I am forever actively “employed” as a volunteer in lifelong learning with Osher at CMU.

Easing into Retirement
By Marcia Conley

My first Osher class was on Friday, January 11, 2016. More on how I remember the date later. I had signed up for a drawing class. Although I made my living as a writer, I had always enjoyed drawing. In fact, I was quite proud of myself that I had attended Tam O’Shanter art classes at the Carnegie Music Hall in grade school. More on that later, too.

I walked into the room and introduced myself to the other students sitting around the conference room table. My fellow students began sharing what they had done for a living, when they retired and other typical “get to know you” information. There were several former teachers, and most of them had been retired for a few years. When asked when I had retired, I surprised everyone by saying “last Friday.” After the laughter subsided, I was given some advice on retirement. My favorite comment was from an ex-teacher, “When you’re retired, every day is a snow day.”

Wow! That said it all. I knew I was going to enjoy retirement and that enrolling in this Osher course was a great move. I even met a woman who had also attended Tam O’Shanter art classes. About a year or so later, I met her again when she and I joined my current book club at the same meeting! It took a while, but we eventually remembered where we knew each other from – my first drawing class at Osher!

Unfortunately, that class also taught me that I should stick to writing and forget about any dreams I had of becoming a famous artist. But, even though everyone in the class seemed much more talented than me, I enjoyed the class immensely. The instructor taught me to observe things more carefully before you put pencil to paper. I did a few drawings that I’m rather proud of. And, most importantly, I learned that Osher classes are the best way to stretch your mind, meet new people, ease into retirement and then continue enjoying every one of those “snow days.”

Testing the Bridge Waters, Again
By Linda Thomas

My mother was a savvy bridge player, and she encouraged me to take up the game.  She said that it doesn’t matter how old you are or what your background is, if you can play bridge, you can fit in and develop some social contacts anywhere.  So I took it up in my 50’s, again later in my 60’s and here I am today, trying my skill/luck in my 70’s.  I’m glad I did.  I was doing well with this game just before COVID interrupted all of our lives, and now I’m testing the waters again.  During my first class I was told by another player, “You’ve still got it.”  Words of encouragement—now I’m ready to dive in.  The water feels great and soon I will be swimming with the Bridge SIG at Osher.  Can’t wait!

6 or 66: First Day of School Jitters
by Roberta Bowen Szyper

On the first Wednesday of March, 2024, I felt like a kid starting first grade except I am 66, not six, and the school is Osher. It was my first in-person Osher class and my first time on the CMU campus.

I was nervous. How do “kids” take notes these days? Being old school, I dug out a slightly used notebook. But wait, I saw Legally Blonde and they all used laptops. (Remember the bunny costume scene?) I took the computer just in case. Charger. GPS address. Everything went in my 21st century schoolbag, a padded laptop case.

After parking where I knew I shouldn’t, I trekked towards campus. My heart was pounding, and not from the walk (I hope.)

I find the building. Turn right instead of left. Go upstairs instead of down. Finally, I locate the right place for class and for me.

I retired from a lifetime of copywriting (or content creating as it is now called) for a tech company. I wanted to try something new and signed up for the Finding Your Voice writing class.

The teacher walked in. Turns out to be an instructor I had in grad school some 30 years ago. Class was great. The people are interesting. I felt invigorated. And I can’t wait to go back to next week.