Gerontology Major Named Valedictorian For Class of ‘11

Trudy Rowe is a natural-born smiler and these days she has even more reasons to up the wattage. She has just been named valedictorian of the Class of 2011.

Rowe, a York student from the island of Barbados, has completed her Bachelors degree in Gerontology a year early and is now fielding offers from graduate schools such as New York University and Rutgers University and Hunter College.
She boasts a near-perfect grade point average (GPA) and wants to study Gerontological Social Work and return to her homeland to serve the senior population there. She worked hard to maintain a good academic record.

“I cried,” she recalls of the drop in her GPA from a perfect 4.0 to somewhere in the high 3.9s due to a lone A-. “Hey, I’m an overachiever and those minuses can really mess you up,” she says.

She has enjoyed both the class work and the research aspects of the Gerontology program. The choice was inspired by her late grandmother. 

“I love the population of geriatrics,” she says. “I love the seniors. My granny helped raise me. Without her I would not have been around elderly people and she opened up my eyes to seniors. I will always be indebted to that population.” 

Una Ifill died in 2009 at the age of 92; but her granddaughter believes she will be “smiling down” on her on graduation day. However, Grandma Ifill’s smile from the beyond will be joined by the smiles of living family members such as her aunt, Marcia Callender, with whom the young scholar has been living; her parents, Don and Baneta Rowe and her sister, Kerry and toddler niece, Wynter are all coming from Barbados for the exciting event. 

Rowe has always known what she wants and how to chart her course. Growing up “right in the flight path” of Gemswick, St. Philip, Barbados, Rowe in her late teens, took a job with Virgin Atlantic Airlines to help support her college goals, which actually started in Barbados. Disenchanted with their refusal to let her into the Geriatrics program saying she was “’too young’” she “walked away” after only one semester and with the support of her parents, came to York. 

She says she was nurtured not only by a loving grandmother, but her hard working parents whom she calls her, “stable force” and the ones who prepared her for success. 

“I think my parents’ purpose in life is to be great parents and they have been that,” she says. “God gives you everything from your inception.” 

As for her professors at York, Rowe also believes they are God-sent. “The professors at York have been angels around me,” she says. “I wish more students would reach out to faculty. They will welcome them with open arms. 

Among those “angels,” Rowe lists Dr. Linda Rose Barley, Dr. Charlene Lane and Dr. Susan Letteney. 

“I had the pleasure of working with Ms. Trudy Rowe on a project about the "Cultural Obligations Related to HIV Disclosure to Children in the Global Context," says Dr. Letteney. “As a research assistant on a PSC-CUNY grant, she helped me to conduct a comprehensive literature review for this project. For her Honors Program thesis project Trudy studied a variation of this project, the "Cultural and Religious Factors Related to HIV Disclosure to Family Members." In February 2011 she presented a peer-reviewed poster of her findings at the annual meeting of The Society of Cross-Cultural Research in Charlotte, SC where she was the only undergraduate student presenter.” 

Letteney added that Rowe impresses her as someone with a bright future. “She is a dedicated and diligent future researcher,” she says. “As Gerontology major she will be recognized by the Social Science Department as an Emerging Scholar in Social Work.

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