Jake Birnbach: Anne Umansky and me
As I reflect on my summer internship, one particularly memorable experience comes to mind.
The AgeLab recently reconnected with several members of their 85+ Lifestyle Leaders’ panel to catch up during an informal lunch and ice cream outing, after more than two years since their last in-person gathering at the AgeLab. One of the Lifestyle Leaders in attendance is someone I have known for my entire life and is the reason I first connected with the AgeLab.
Many at the lab know Anne Umansky for her wisdom, wit, and unmistakable charisma from many Lifestyle Leader workshops over the past decade. To me, she is my deceased grandmother’s best friend and a powerful guiding force in my life.
I attended my first AgeLab event, an OMEGA summit, with Anne when I was twelve years old. At first, I was very nervous, since I was the youngest participant at the workshop, primary composed of older high school students. However, Anne encouraged me to be open minded, not allowing my youth to prevent me from engaging with researchers and students at the workshop. The rest of the day was a blast. I enjoyed learning about AgeLab’s unique approach to multidisciplinary research. Thanks to Anne’s initial introduction, I continued to participate in various OMEGA events throughout high school.
I recently finished my second summer internship at the AgeLab, working on several projects related to extreme weather emergency preparedness among older adults, multigenerational financial advising, and smart home research. Although I had the opportunity to work on several thrilling, impactful projects, the highlight of my summer was inviting and driving Anne to the lunch gathering as an AgeLab representative. It was great to see such a vibrant crowd of older adults engaging with AgeLab team members, as we sat outside, enjoying ice cream on that hot July afternoon. My summer experience at the AgeLab will continue to resonate whenever I think of Anne for years to come.