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Student's journey of self-discovery mirrors that of older adult clientele

Natalie Wammes
Natalie Wammes

By Olivia Eastly, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Natalie Wammes didn't always dream of working with older adults, but after working with older adults at Akron Rotary Camp, she knew this was the population she wanted to serve.

After receiving the Joseph L. Ruby Student Scholarship from Akron Community Foundation in December 2023, Natalie's dream is closer to becoming a reality. This scholarship is awarded to at least one student each year who demonstrates a commitment to providing compassionate care for older adults.

After graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Dayton, Natalie decided to pursue a master's degree in social work from the University of Kentucky online. She aims to become a licensed social worker to better advocate for older adults.

Natalie works at Jewish Family Service of Akron as an older adult caseworker. In this role, she helps older adults understand and access the resources available to them through the government and community. The goal is to allow older adults to age in place for as long as safely possible.

In her application, Natalie explained, "In a short home visit, I can show an overwhelmed individual that there are options. I can be the person who listens as they share their fears over losing their independence or share in their grief over losing a loved one."

As part of her coursework, Natalie also must complete several field placements. For one of these placements, Natalie chose to work at Pebble Creek, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Akron. It was during her placement at Pebble Creek that Natalie was first introduced to Direction Home while making referrals for residents being discharged.

Natalie possibly has learned even more outside of the classroom through her hands-on experiences working with older adults. One of her most insightful observations is that aging is not about dying or even loss. "It is a time of continued self-development; a chance to enjoy life while demonstrating strength and resilience. It can be challenging to see aging that way, but I hope my work with older adults can show that," Natalie wrote in her application.

In August, Natalie will begin her final practicum placement at Jewish Family Service. Recently, she created an educational program for older adults and helped develop a Holocaust legacy project. Her work, enabled by this scholarship, will continue to impact older adults in Greater Akron for years to come.

Nearly 250 students across our community received scholarships from one of Akron Community Foundation's more than 80 scholarship funds this year. From funds that help students attain specific degrees to those that benefit LGBTQ+ and allied students to those that are awarded to students attending a specific university, our scholarship funds help students achieve their educational dreams and become the future leaders of our community. Learn more at

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