These Oklahoma college freshmen are honorary seniors — senior citizens, that is.
University of Tulsa students Shaun Roberts and Chance Jackson recently made the news when they chose to swap the hubbub of dorm life on campus for a relatively quiet room at Montereau, a local senior living community in Tulsa.
“When I go to school during the day, I’m hanging with 18 to 20-year-olds, and then I come home, and everyone is like 40 years older,” Roberts told local NBC News affiliate KJRH.
The roommates live free of charge in return for putting on concerts and hosting music practices.
The exchange is part of a successful partner program between the university and the non-profit senior community. It comes amid the so-called loneliness epidemic, said to affect one in four older people worldwide.
“It’s an opportunity to spread the love of music and joy of music,” Jackson said.
Performances at the home, which arrangements of jazz, classical and contemporary melodies, feature Roberts, Jackson and their classmates at the university’s School of Music.
The duo have even brainstormed various collaboration opportunities with the residents, including a Veterans’ program.
“I think it’s pretty cool. They bring a little different jive to the place. It’s fun to have the kids around,” said Nick Kerpon, a resident at Montereau.
There’s something new to learn every day from the residents, Roberts said, like making the most of the present moment and not worrying about the past or future. Jackson believes those forged connections are the “most significant part” of the program.
Kerpon likened the young adults to their “grandkids.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase ‘Isn’t it nice to have three grandmas?’” Roberts quipped.