Chowan hosts SeniorFEST

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, May 8, 2018

By Amanda Bradshaw Sharpe
University Relations

MURFREESBORO – Chowan University hosted over 375 senior adults for the 12th annual SeniorFEST event.

SeniorFEST is held each spring on the historic campus, highlighting healthy lifestyles, Christian living, and shedding light on issues facing senior-adults today. With special guest speakers, informative breakout sessions, live entertainment, a classic southern buffet, and door prizes, SeniorFEST offered a day full of fellowship and fun for individuals and groups.

Senior citizens from the town of Murfreesboro, and from hours away across North Carolina and Virginia gathered to partake in the event. They attended an opening session with entertainment provided by Susan Sparks a trial lawyer turned comedian turned Baptist minister. Sparks had the room in stitches with her Christian comedy. She shared her belief that humor should be kept in church, and demonstrated the age-old ideology that laughter is the best medicine.

The breakout sessions included depression in seniors, living a healthy lifestyle, poetry of rural North Carolina, fun with fitness, aging services, and ways to support missions without leaving the church. The most popular session of the day was facilitated by Dr. Robert Cooke of Vidant Women’s Care of Ahoskie. Dr. Cooke is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as lifestyle medicine (one of only 200 in the country and three in NC). His healthy living session taught strategies to modify one’s lifestyle to take control of health.

Bending the Spoon was facilitated by another local, Heather Howle of Herford County Aging Services. The session involved a lively discussion in regards to how baby boomers are changing preconceived notions about aging and impacting aging services in the 21st century.

Tears in the Golden Years also focused on health, outlining strategies to help safeguard against depression and was facilitated by Stan Oakley, MD, DLFAPA, Professor of Psychiatric Medicine from ECU Brody School of Medicine. His visit was made possible by the Geriatric Workforce Grant.

Other sessions offered hands on experiences, such as 101 Ways to Support Missions without Leaving your Church, hosted by Mari E. Wiles, Minister to the University, and Drew Phillips, Associate Minister to the University. Attendees crafted jump ropes that served as an example as one of many ways to support missions and will be taken on the next Chowan mission trip.

Fun with Fitness provided strategies to incorporate exercise into daily routine. The session was led by Vidant Wellness coaches Jason Jenkins and Lisa Lane. Vidant not only sponsored the event, but also provided many of the guest speakers.

Chowan’s University Professor of History Dr. Gregory Taylor facilitated the session Poetry of Rural North Carolina. Dr. Taylor is a favorite lecturer on campus, and has several published books. His session focused on the poetry of James Larkin Pearson whose poetry celebrates small-town life.

Immediately following the breakout session attendees gathered for a southern lunch buffet and more laughter and community building provided by the comedic stylings of Susan Sparks.

Though the day began with clouds and rain, it ended with sunshine, full bellies, minds and hearts. Chowan is grateful for partners Vidant, Eastern AHEC, The North Carolina Baptist Foundation, and Hertford Health Maintenance Alliance (HHMA) Task Force on Aging for contributing to another successful SeniorFEST at Chowan University.

For more information about Chowan University, visit or call 1-888-4-CHOWAN.