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Junior Honorable Mention

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The Reflective Essay discusses how the Claremont Colleges Library and the resources it provides served as a bridge to situate the author’s project within the research world and how she came to appreciate the collaborative process of social science research—collaboration with professors, peers, and librarians, and collaboration and trust established between the researcher and the research subjects. In her study the author explores the definition of community in the context of a Southern California retirement home, focusing on the feelings and experiences of elderly residents in the skilled nursing centers of the community. The study analyzes data collected from several interviews of nursing home residents, staff, and visitors along with data from participant observation. Results show that three main themes contribute to the elderly’s views of community: transitions, social networks, and engagement. Residents view transitions as difficult times of the life cycle that are eased by social networks and friendships. These friendships also contribute to people’s involvement in activities and engagement within a community. Finally, engagement brings a sense of community to those involved. These three themes work together to form a definition of community that can contribute to the increasing demand for research pertaining to the growing elderly population and can provide a foundation for understanding the calls for new types of communities serving the elderly.

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