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Deb Fineman Pays It Forward

Deb Fineman

Portrait of Deb Fineman frolicking on a beach.

LearningLife student Deb Fineman is not one to rest on her laurels. A former nurse who worked with the University of Minnesota Hospital’s bone marrow transplant program, she loves to learn—in fact, becomes visibly charged by the experience—and revels in helping other people to do and feel the same.

As a student, Deb Fineman has taken advantage of every program in the LearningLife portfolio: she’s taken numerous LearningLife short courses, enrolled in the annual Encore Transitions series, and attended a year’s worth of Headliners events. And that’s in just five years!

“I wanted a class without having to write a paper,” Fineman says. “I heard of LearningLife by searching U of M online. I first went to a LearningLife Sampler and fell in love with all the samples! I chose a class about women in Vietnam during the war: it was three sessions but I didn’t want it to end. I loved it.”

Some of Fineman’s favorite offerings have been the literature courses taught by Professor Emerita Toni McNaron. “I’ve taken about five classes with Professor McNaron: the books come alive in her classes, and you come away with a much deeper meaning for each book. I read all the time, but never with the clarity of reading with Toni.”

“After I retired, someone told me about Encore Transitions and I signed up.” Fineman immersed herself in the annual pre- and post-retirement series with the same zeal as she did with LearningLife courses. After completing the series, Fineman was invited to be part of an Encore Transitions panel. With that came free Headliners tickets, “and I’ve been to all of those events except one.”

And just as LearningLife led her to Encore Transitions, the program also introduced her to one of its community partners, AARP Experience Corps: an intergenerational volunteer-based tutoring program through which adults 50 and older help children who aren’t reading at grade level become great readers by the end of third grade.
“I’ve tutored reading to first graders in Saint Paul for two years,” Fineman says. “It brings me such joy when I get a student who can’t read and then in a month, three months, by the end of the year they’re reading little chapter books.”

A child decorates a sheet of paper on a wall in an elementary classroom.

Interested in volunteering with our Experience Corps partner? Visit the Experience Corps website and register for a new volunteer information session to learn more. Upcoming sessions take place on the following days at AARP’s Minnesota State Office located at 1919 University Avenue West, Saint Paul:
Tuesday, July 23, 1−2:15 p.m.
Wednesday, August 7, 10−11:15 a.m.
Wednesday, August 14, 1−2:15 p.m.

Published on July 15, 2019