We Heart OLLI

  Normally, OLLI classes and events are held at the Ruby Gerontology Center on the CSUF campus in Fullerton.  In recent months the OLLI experience has shifted to a virtual campus. Our resilient OLLI members learned how  to use Zoom and continue with our classes. Here are testimonials from OLLI then and OLLI now.  

Mike Stover OLLI is a place for senior adults to engage in a diverse, intellectually stimulating, and socially rewarding community of lifelong learners from all walks of life.  In this “neighborhood,” acquaintances become friends based on compatible and contrasting interests, life experiences, and personalities. Without taxpayer support or a cadre of paid instructors, OLLI members become invested in their organization’s success. OLLI is my safe place to explore important and sometimes even dangerous ideas. If OLLI at Cal State Fullerton didn’t exist, its creation would merit the greatest of efforts.

Mike Stover, Retired Municipal Government Administrator

Leslie GrosseThank you, Olli for keeping my new retirement going. I thought my goals were coming to a standstill. Not true, I’m finding that enjoyment is waiting for me! Phone calls are what got me out of my sad zone to get my confidence to try the new zoom learning.  I never thought I could do it. SURPRISE, I did it!

Leslie Grosse, Retired Floristry Management

Mary Sampson After retiring from teaching at the same high school for 36 years, I felt a bit at loose ends. I no longer had my “school family” to see and interact with every day. Once I joined OLLI, I had more “family” than I knew what to do with. I feel as though I have known some of those people all my life. In addition to friendship, OLLI has given me purpose. I feel valued here. I can use my teaching skills with people who, like me, still want to learn.

Mary Sampson, Retired High School Educator-English and Drama

Mary Sampson I have been a member of OLLI since Fall of 2019. I have been participating in zoom classes, such as writing, art, and book club. I also serve in the OLLI-CSUF mentor program which enables me to continue using my experience as a retired educator and high school counselor. I look forward to assisting our CSUF students by empowering them to reach their educational and personal goals and help them build life skills and grow in confidence.

Roberta Jimenez, Retired Educator and High School Counselor.

Mary Sampson OLLI has enabled me to continue my lifelong quest for learning. The classes expand my many avenues for creativity and the wonderful  interaction with others who also share the joy of discovery.

David Jeng, Pharm D, Retired Pharmacist

Marietta Davis I remember the fun and joy it was as I entered the first Zoom session during this COVID-19 period and saw the bright smiles on faces and hands eagerly waving to greet hello to others as class members arrived!  OLLI is a source of learning, relaxation, friendship and comfort.  Come zoom with us!

Marietta Davis, Retired Software Librarian

Barbara Vigano I lost my husband and felt lonesome, alone in life and lost in a big house. After joining OLLI twelve years ago, I continue to attend several classes a week. They continue to be the source of my joie de vivre...together with the two classes of French that I teach!

Barbara Vigano, Retired Professor of French

Sam Sumanth The OLLI Zoom classes have been terrific. Hats off to the class coordinators and our terrific IT people for making this transition so easy and user friendly. I am thoroughly enjoying the zoom classes - I attend about 15 each week. In fact, participating from home, it sometimes feels more convenient and makes your class participation more thoughtful. The classes are just as wonderful as they’ve always been. But still I miss the wonderful OLLI folks. So, here’s hoping this lockdown ends fast, and we will all get to meet each other in person at our beloved Ruby Gerontology Center soon.

Sam Sumanth, Retired Engineer/Finance Manager

Pat DuffieI have appreciated the new zoom classes. I miss all my friends at OLLI, and this is the next best thing. I commend the volunteers for taking the time to learn zoom and for adjusting their classes to the new medium. I am hoping for person to person contact to be available soon. There is no substitute for a real hug, and hearing a real laugh - or even a complaint - just plain human interaction.

Pat Duffie


Suzie AtalI want the OLLI community to know that I am so thankful to have OLLI in my life.  Everyone has been so helpful and patient with using the Zoom technology.  It's amazing what wonderful programming is being offered.  I go to classes 4 days a week, with Monday being my busiest with 3 to 4 classes depending on the week.  The classes determine my daytime routine and keep me focused and engaged.  Thank you, thank you.

Suzi Atal, Retired Teacher

Suzie Atal OLLI offers an excellent opportunity for personal growth, intellectual stimulation and the making of new friends. It has provided me with a support structure for continued education and civic engagement after retirement.

Jerry Hunter, Retired Community College Administrator

Renee CabreraWhat OLLI means to me as both a Board Member and Member during this unprecedented time in OLLI’s history is Opportunity. Even though I am staying at home and Sheltering-in-Place, the opportunity to continue to learn, and the opportunity to stay in contact with other OLLI members via zoom has helped me to keep a positive mental outlook and to continue the OLLI spirit of learning and friendship.

Renee Cabrera, Retired Senior Analyst

Fran DobleyThank goodness for OLLI.  I appreciate all the hard work preparing the zoom classes and it keeps me busy all the time!  It is wonderful to see all the OLLI members and be able to put in my 2 cents worth from time to time.  There is no time to be bored or lonely, my computer is my friend. What on earth would I do without OLLI? You are all my virtual friends!  I am on the Travel Committee and look forward to planning trips for us in the future and meeting YOU in PERSON!

Fran Dobley, Retired Travel Agent

Chris MilfordOLLI is more than just an organization on campus.  It represents an idea regarding the process of continual learning. Anyone can help students and OLLI members, just as they can help me gain knowledge.  One can develop friendships with OLLI members, as well as contribute to, and enjoy the numerous activities and classes.  I recommend OLLI to anyone who wants to stay active and volunteer their talents to help others reach their potential.

Chris Milord, Retired Educator, Writer

Marie Stiegler I have been experiencing many things during the time of pandemic and quarantining. Cancer and the caring for my best friend to get her through her journey in beating this horrible disease. Being unable to venture outside our home and panic stricken that what I do may bring this to my friend while in her fight for her life. All this, and more, weighs heavy on my mind each day, but being an OLLI member gives me breaks in those feelings with calls, cards, email and courses on zoom to bring me back.

Without OLLI, I would not have been able to let my mind be free, even for a bit. I have been to classes that I never thought I would do and have enjoyed them. OLLI also has helped me come out of my shell more and I am blossoming.   

Marie Stiegler, Retired Account Technician

Lew Livingston I had to finish my CSUF Japanese Cinema class, which I was auditing through OLLI, online.  Both the professor and students were surprised at how well it went. I was also able to listen in to my wife's CSUF class occasionally, which was a bonus.  I was able to attend an OLLI class without commuting.  Sure, it's not as good as being there, but it has allowed me to engage with people at a time when we don't go anywhere and can't have people come here.  And I've met some interesting people this way.

Lew Livingston, Retired Engineer

Susan Mullaly After retirement in 2016 and before OLLI, I felt very adrift. Now, I find that OLLI has put wind back into my sails and my life. As I started classes, volunteering, and then joined the Board, I came to realize how great OLLI is. What joy in making new friends, attending many choices of classes, working with motivated, inspired volunteers and finding such great support.  During the last five months as a new VP, I have had the great opportunity to get back in action and use many of the skills and experiences acquired throughout my life. Thank you, OLLI!

Sue Mullaly, Retired Executive Administrator

Marjorie Mota One way to approach the question of what OLLI means to me is to invite you to imagine that you have lived in a Twilight Zone episode for the last number of years and never heard of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. You never went to an OLLI social; never attended a history or science lecture series; never heard an OLLI choir or concert; never taught or attended one single class. Now you are living in stay-at-home-mode trying to figure out how to combat the numbness that sets in when the newness wears off. You have no idea how other people in your age cohort are doing. Wake up from that Twilight Zone and notice that you are still connected (whew!) to a vibrant organization of people your age who are still determined to enrich the quality of life by working together to defeat life’s tricky obstacle course in the best way possible.

Marjorie Mota

Dennis WilsonOLLI, to me, is like a social banquet table filled with plates of education, knowledge, fellowship, art, music, and friendships, all served with a side dish of fun.  There is always food on the OLLI table and everyone is welcomed to enjoy as little or as much of everything that is offered. OLLI is my way to enhance and nourish my life.

Dennis Wilson, Retired Corporate Director, Biotechnology Industry

Donna Judd Ironically, the shutdown has enabled me to enjoy OLLI almost more, as it makes it easier to interact with friends online. I have Parkinsons and difficulty getting around on the physical campus so…there’s always a silver lining to every situation!

Donna Judd, Retired Educator

Chris Shaw OLLI's efforts to provide classes through Zoom have been a lifesaver for me since I began sheltering in place on March 14th due to COVID-19.  Without the classes and the opportunity to actually see and talk with fellow members during this unprecedented period of uncertainty, I would have experienced a greater sense of anxiety, fear, and loneliness. I am so grateful to the OLLI presenters and technical advisors that have made this transition so seamless and workable for us all.  OLLI has been an important part of my life since I joined in 2007, and this successful transformation is indeed something to cheer.  I believe that our CSUF OLLI is exemplary and a model for others to emulate.  Thank you everyone who has made this possible!

Bonnie Harrington, Retired, Lead Child Care Teacher

Chris Shaw OLLI means legacy and family to me, as a second-generation member of OLLI. I was introduced to CLE (OLLI’s predecessor) by my father, Gordon Shaw, who was CLE’s third president, and my stepmother, Dixie Shaw, who was chair of both the Programs Committee and Publicity Committee. They were both named Co-Volunteers of the Year in 1987.They instilled in me an interest in, and a respect for, the institution for “continuing learning experience” for seniors at CSUF, and I feel a family responsibility to continue to support OLLI.

Chris Shaw, Retired Corporate Manager

OLLI has brought me warm friendships, laughter, thought-provoking discussions, and the opportunity to get to know many highly talented individuals. Sharing travel experiences, day trip ventures, honing my limited computer skills, book discussions, music, films, gardening tips, financial advice, and guest lectures on a wide variety of topics are just some of the ways OLLI has enriched my life.

Monika Broome

Having the ability to continue with the classes I've been enjoying attending these past few years has been a major bright spot in my life during what I call "Our Weirdness Era."  It provides a continuity with the special people (bless them!) who work to keep the interesting and enjoyable programs and presentations going, along with my fellow OLLI members.  Some day we will meet again in person, but the arrangements we have now are also very satisfying.

Pamela Schmidt, Hypnotherapist, Retired Teacher