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Aging & Society

You’re Never “Too Old”: My Grandfather’s Story

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My grandfather, David Leinwand, is an inspiration and this is his story.

Growing up, my grandfather’s favorite subject in school was always history, but for most of his life, he only pursued this interest as a hobby.  He was constantly reading nonfiction books, watching documentaries, and sharing historical knowledge with his family. After getting a bachelors’ degree in accounting, he made a living in New York, managing the family’s electrical appliance business. He enjoyed his work and had a fulfilling 45-year career. After selling the business in 2000, he made the decision to turn his passion for history into something more formal.

It started with volunteering.  He would spend a few days a week at various Manhattan public schools, spending time in the classroom and discovering a love of teaching. What followed was a vigorous pursuit of higher education.  He began taking courses at Fordham University in history and politics, but he didn’t stop there. He enrolled in a Master’s program at New York University (with a focus in history of course!). Proudly the oldest student in his program, he loved his classes, and in 2002, at the age of 70, he walked the stage, earning his second degree.  For David, that diploma wasn’t just a new decoration for the wall.  He enthusiastically got to work putting his degree to good use, beginning what became ten years as an adjunct professor at Iona College, where he taught two World History courses per semester and one during the summer session. His students loved him almost as much as my grandfather loved the experience of connecting with a new group of “college kids” every semester. And some of my fondest memories of my grandfather were of spending time with him at Iona, cheering on the team during basketball games.

As I approach my senior year in college and get ready to enter the “real world”, I think of my grandfather’s example and the value he placed on staying a student and constantly learning, regardless of his years of life experience.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my grandfather it’s that it’s never too late to make a career change to follow your passion – but more importantly, to always remaining open to learning and pursuing challenging new experiences.

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