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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

Human Library: NLW 2023

The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue.

Senior Olympian/Fulbright Scholar

Book Title:  Senior Olympian- What’s your superpower?

Why Brenda is volunteering: 

Older persons, aka, “Seniors” are frequently portrayed as no-to-low energy, sedentary, adverse to vigorous physical activities/experiences, and/or as-set-in-their-ways. Occasionally, older persons are portrayed as vibrant, alert, and open to new adventures and experiences. These occasional times cannot caption the thousands of senior athletes who annually train and compete at state, national and international levels. In addition to being a seven-time Senior Olympics medal winner, I am also a Fulbright Scholar. I view both through a similar lens. Each is predicated on knowledge, interests, and skill(s) acquired over time. Each requires a commitment to excellence. In both arenas, knowledge, skill, and performance are considered on their merits more so than age. I want it to be(come) increasingly known that seniors can be steeped in exciting vigorously-physically-demanding challenges and ventures as the norm for the “senior” stage of their lives as well as remain intellectually vibrant.

  • How did you become a Senior Olympian and what is your sport/event?
  •  How do you train for the Senior Olympics?
  • Are there ways in which being a Senior Olympian and Fulbright Scholar are similar?


The National Senior Games is a sports competition held every two years for seniors from North America. It is the largest multi-sports event specifically devoted to adults ages 50 and older (events are divided into age groups with five-year intervals). Athletes qualify for the National Senior Games by placing in their state competitions.   The first Senior Games took place in 1987 and attracted 2,500 people. Recent attendance (Cleveland, Ohio, 2013) was more than 10,000 competitors and 20,000 spectators, with the oldest competitors being over 100 years old.  The National Senior Games Association, who runs the National Senior Games, strives to be the premier organization in the world supporting adult athletes. The NSGA commits to support all adults 50 and over interested in living a healthier lifestyle. It will serve its member organizations, state and local games, and constituents by providing resources, coordinated leadership and education.  In 1990 an agreement was reached with the United States Olympic Committee based on their objection to the use of the term Olympic in the organization’s corporate name and the name was changed to the U.S. (

Fulbright Scholar Program

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. Approximately 370,000 "Fulbrighters" have participated in the Program since its inception in 1946. (


National Humanities Center. (1997). Fulbright at fifty : Meeting the challenge of the next fifty years. Research Triangle Park, NC]: National Humanities Center Steering Committee on the Future of the Fulbright Educational Exchange Program. 

Arndt, R., & Rubin, D. (1993). The Fulbright difference, 1948-1992 (Studies on cultural diplomacy and the Fulbright experience). New Brunswick, (U.S.A.): Transaction.  


Merrill, R., Shields, E., Wood, A., & Beck, R. (2004). Outcome Expectations That Motivate Physical Activity among World Senior Games Participants. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 99(3_suppl), 1277-1289.  

Cardenas, D., Henderson, K., & Wilson, B. (2009). Experiences of Participation in Senior Games among Older Adults. Journal of Leisure Research, 41(1), 41-56.  

Merrill, R., Bowen, E., & Hager, R. (n.d.). Identifying Chronic Conditions and Other Selected Factors That Motivate Physical Activity in World Senior Games Participants and the General Population. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, 1, Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, 2015, Vol.1.  

Vogel, Ralph H. (1987). The making of the Fulbright program. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 491, 11.  

Murphy, K. (1996). 50th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program. Educational Technology Research and Development, 44(2), 82-83. 

Streaming Video & Audio

Interview: Former ambassadors Cynthia Schroeder and Frances Cook discuss programs needed to improve and promote America's image.(10:00-11:00 AM)(Broadcast transcript). (2002). National Public Radio. 

Fulbright Program, What is the Fulbright Program?  (

“The Senior Games” (

National Senior Games Association (NSGA)  National Senior Games (2008) (

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