The last year has been full of surprising shifts, but throughout all the changes, we have kept true to our mission to offer an affordable and engaging lifelong learning program to the Grand Strand community and beyond. So here we are, starting our own business, proving that even after retirement, opportunities for growth and learning abound.
Who’s “we”? Carol Osborne and Kelli Barker. We were the Director and Assistant Director of Coastal Carolina University’s Academic Outreach division, and thus responsible for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) there until July of 2020. When the university suspended that program and eradicated our department, we retired after working for the university for close to twenty years. Knowing that the pandemic had hit our OLLI family hard, we decided to create a lifelong learning program of our own for the fall semester, and under the umbrella of a local non-profit, Neighbor to Neighbor, we offered 150 online classes, clubs, and virtual excursions to 162 enthusiastic and dedicated adults, located both here in South Carolina and elsewhere. In fact, some of our instructors taught from overseas: Turkey, London, and Scotland! In December, we made the leap to starting our own business, confident that we could offer more efficient service and a better experience for our students by doing so.
Kelli Barker has the most experience in lifelong learning, having worked in CCU’s outreach programs for nineteen years. A military brat, she was well-prepared for the constantly shifting environment that is academia and maintained a positive outlook throughout her career. The relationships she built during that time, strengthened by her kind-hearted nature, have guaranteed a large and effective network of supporters who have assisted tremendously in the formation of the SALT program.
Carol Osborne spent the first twelve years of her career as a high school English teacher in Virginia Beach. After pursuing a Ph.D. in English, she then taught English and English Education courses first at Murray State University and then at Coastal Carolina University. After being promoted to full professor, she served as Associate Dean in the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts before becoming director of Academic and Community Outreach.
What’s Next? Senior Adventures in Learning and Travel (SALT), LLC is now the official name of our business, but you can call us by the acronym SALT. Our advisory committee is chaired by Ellen Jampole, who worked with us at OLLI as instructor and administrative specialist. The committee consists of Kofie Montgomery, Paula Holt, Sheila Rudesill, Chris Bryant, Cathy Milliren, and MaryClair Bretz. We offer online and in-person classes and clubs and local, regional, national, and international excursions.
While we both have serious sides, we don’t mind making fools out of ourselves for the entertainment of our students, so we’ve included a video from December’s Holiday Fun event for your amusement below.