The Longhorn Center for Community Engagement proudly hosts a free, monthly seminar in partnership with the Renaissance Retirement Center in Austin Texas. Invited speakers are leaders in their respective fields and represent a variety of academic departments throughout The University of Texas at Austin. Each presenter shares their recent research or academic interests and the implications of their work on society.
On Thursday, September 26th, UT Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs, and Clinical Associate Professor, Vicki Packheiser spoke to the residents of Renaissance Retirement Center of her life experiences, lessons and career.
Raised on the south side of Chicago by a “teacher with a social worker’s heart and soul” as a mother, and an artist and musician as a father, Packheiser described her upbringing as a “cauldron of creativity and social justice,” much of where her career inspiration stemmed from.
Working in diverse fields of social work, from family to psychiatric to intensive, Packheiser shared her fascination of the role of creativity in the process of healing victims of abuse and trauma. Sharing victims’ stories of triumphs and positive change, Packheiser inspired audience members to develop positively from negative situations.
Packheiser focused on creative aspects used to help the growth of victims’ spirits, including her own; sharing personal traumatic experiences and the artwork that came from them. Inspired by her words, audience members felt comfortable to speak of their hardships and how they overcame them. One, almost breaking into tears, admitted that she never felt creative in her life; she was always “too busy” to focus on herself. Packheiser highlighted the importance of feeding our souls with a creative outlet, quoting writer Julia Cameron, “we are suffering from creative anorexia;” starving our souls from basic needs. Packheiser then challenged members of the retirement center to “once a week, do something that feeds your soul,” and find new possibilities through creativity.
Touched by Packheiser’s words, retired members responded with positive feedback and attitudes. “I feel that, through these lectures, we get a stimulation that is different from other things we have going on here. It was very informative!” Renaissance member Marylin Willson claimed.
“It was heartwarming and inspiring to engage with such a great group of listeners with their own stories and life experiences – truly lifelong learners!” Dr. Vicki Packheiser concluded.
Next month, Renaissance Residents look forward to hearing from Dr. Sonia Paban, a UT Physics Professor, who focuses on Particle Phenomenology, String Theory, and Particle and Theoretical Physics.