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AARP Foundation Women's Scholarhip Program

Developing New Strengths in Midlife

Keri Douglass: 2010 Scholarship Recipient

For Keri, the hardest part is the technology.  “With a brain injury, the quick recall isn’t always there, and trying to figure out how something works is a great challenge,” she says.  “But then, when I think about it, I never was that interested in technology – I much preferred the gratification that comes from making people feel better,” she says.

She’s grateful, though, that she grew up when she did.  “I’m as old as color TV.  I remember when the remote was invented. I’ve seen technology shift from a much larger reference point than young people today have. We went from a mimeograph to a Xerox to a scanner and digital photo, and we learned how to do shorthand.  When you think of it, texting is nothing but shorthand. I understand hacking because we had party lines. In fact, last year I got an iPad because of its magnification capabilities, and all I can think of is that I finally have Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio –it’s just not strapped to my wrist,” she says. “Being my age really has its advantages.”

Keri has learned to take her disabilities in stride – most of the time.  “Sometimes I forget. I still feel like a 12-year-old inside, and I want to climb rocks,” she says. Because her disability is not physically apparent, people don’t recognize it.  “Just the other day, I got cussed out because I parked in a handicapped space,” she says.  “I just looked at the guy for a minute. Then I said, “What you don’t know is that I have a walker in my trunk, and it’s there for a reason. Sometimes that’s the only way I can get around.” 

In 2010, Keri got her first AARP Foundation scholarship, which allowed her to transfer to Washington’s Howard University and pursue a double major in photography and filmmaking.  “I was so glad that you didn’t ask me to write about dead artists on my application,” she says.  “You asked me to write about the artist who is me.”

She reapplied in 2011 and received another scholarship for this year’s studies at Howard. “I can’t even begin to tell you how much the AARP Foundation scholarships mean to me.  Your support has been so wonderful – someone is always calling me or emailing me to check in and see how I’m doing, and that has been so important to me,” she says. 

“I’ve realized that emotional support becomes more important than ever when you grow older, or at least that’s how it has worked for me,” Keri says. “I want to be standing with people who have life challenges they never saw coming, who didn’t have the resources to deal with them and who had to find their way back out of nowhere.  That’s what happened to me, and I bet that’s what happened to the other scholarship winners, too. AARP Foundation has given me a new way of life – or maybe I should say ‘a new life.’ I will always be grateful.”

Income
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Use the navigational menu to learn more about the tools and resources that will help low-income Americans age 50 and over regain control of their financial stability.

Featured
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AARP Tax Aide

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

This program offers free assistance with tax-return preparation. Go

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AARP Benefits QuickLink

See if you qualify for public assistance and you can save money on health care, medication, food, utilities, and more! Go

AARP Foundation Finances 50+

Finances 50+

This financial capability program is a collaboration between AARP Foundation and Charles Schwab Foundation. Go

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Housing Solutions Center

This program offers free HUD-certified counseling and assistance to 50-plus homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure. Go

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Back to Work 50+

We are partnering with workforce services providers to strengthen the bridge between 50+ job candidates and respected employers. Read

Income in the
News

Are Boomers Confident About Retirement Saving? Survey Says No.

(Marketwatch, April 2) - A new survey by the Insured Retirement Institute notes a marked drop in the last two years in boomers' confidence that they are saving enough for retirement. Read

Older Americans Adding to Debt to Help Relatives

(Marketplace, March 27) - Recent studies indicate that 50+ Americans now carry more credit card debt than those under 50, the first time for such a swing. And a good portion of that debt comes from older Americans helping out struggling relatives. Read

Challenges Face Those Who Want to Continue Working

(Huffington Post, March 21) - In her most recent blog, Sara Rix, senior strategic policy advisor with the AARP Public Policy Institute, notes that although many older Americans want to keep working, challenges such as ill health, job loss and caregiving responsibilities often still stand in the way; however, ongoing improvements in employment options continue to make "working close to forever" highly appealing. Read