Chloe Steffensmeier

Chloe Steffensmeier continues her passion at Iowa State

Chloe always knew she wanted to pursue a master’s degree, but she wasn’t sure which specific program she wanted. It wasn’t until she took classes with associate professor Jennifer Margrett as an undergraduate student that she knew gerontology was the path for her.

“I did my undergraduate here in child, adult, and family services with a specialization in adult and family services,” she said. “I started taking classes with Dr. Margrett and learned more about gerontology, and just fell in love with it.”

As a student in the second year of the Gerontology Master’s program, Chloe devotes time to her teaching, research assistantships, internship seeking, and coursework. In addition to these responsibilities, students in the program must develop a thesis to work on throughout the duration of their time in the program.

“I’m looking at environments for the aging and how social support differs across different environments such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as living independently in your home, and seeing how that social support can impact loneliness,” she said.

To create a thesis she is both passionate about and interested in, Chloe drew from her personal experiences and observations.

“I was drawn to social support because I had worked in a continuing care retirement community,” she said. “I just saw, across the board, varying levels of social support. I saw a big difference in the amount of support people were receiving. That, and just personal experience with my aging family members.”

For those curious about the key differences between undergraduate and graduate school, Chloe said one of the differences is what students’ course loads look like.

“As an undergrad, I could take 18 credits a semester,” she said. “As a graduate student, I’m taking 6. The amount of courses you’re enrolled in is much less. However, the work itself is a lot more intensive.”

Ultimately, Chloe wants to work with issues in the aging population from a policy perspective. With a large number of different paths she could have taken, Chloe feels she made the right choice sticking with Iowa State to pursue a second degree.

“I already created a nice base here, and I was familiar with the area, and I loved Iowa State. So it just seemed like the easy choice,” she said.