Dementia Care Manager, Advocate Receives Inaugural MASS-SALC Scholarship for Graduate Education in Aging Services

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Dementia Care Manager, Advocate Receives Inaugural MASS-SALC Scholarship for Graduate Education in Aging Services

Scholarship initiative to support emerging industry leaders as demand for assisted living grows

Kingston, MA – The Massachusetts Senior and Assisted Living Communities Foundation, Inc. (MASS-SALC) announced today the first recipient of a new scholarship intended to foster leadership development in the assisted living industry as the state’s aging population grows. Wanjiku DePina, a special care residence manager at Wingate The Inn at Silver Lake in Kingston and a passionate advocate for seniors with dementia and their families, was selected to receive the full-tuition scholarship to attend the UMass-Boston Aging Services Online Master’s Program.

“Wanjiku is the kind of enthusiastic and skilled leader who will be critical to Massachusetts as our state’s Baby Boomers transition into the next phase of their lives,” said Richard T. Moore, president of the Massachusetts Assisted Living Association (Mass-ALA), which funds the scholarship through a grant. “This scholarship is one of many proactive steps we will be taking as an industry to invest in our talent pool to meet the needs of growing numbers of aging residents and their families.”

The total value of DePina’s scholarship will be $19,000, covering the full three-year program. MASS-SALC intends to continue to the scholarship program on an annual basis, with new leaders to be awarded in 2017 and 2018.

“This scholarship will help me lead as a key voice of advocacy for individuals with dementia and a resource and support to their caregivers and families,” said DePina. “To be in a position to have a part in shaping social policy to improve the lives of these precious people will be amazingly rewarding and personally fulfilling.”

In her current role as a special care residence manager, DePina, who is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, manages two Memory Care neighborhoods, developing training and education for direct care staff on dementia. She also works closely with families coping with the challenges of dementia. DePina hopes to use her Master’s to become a consultant and educator specializing in dementia-specific care. She aims to work closely with family caregivers, adult day health centers, councils on aging, and assisted living communities to improve and scale their Alzheimer’s and dementia programs.

DePina completed a certified nursing assistant (C.N.A.) program through Bristol-Plymouth Regional Vocational High School followed by a B.A. in gerontology from UMass-Boston. While at UMass-Boston, she also earned the Frank J. Manning Certificate in Gerontology as well as a certificate in Gerontological Social Policy. She lives in East Taunton.