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Empowering Aging and Disabled Communities

Susan McGuire discovered her career path by recognizing the importance of connecting older adults and disabled individuals to national resources. Her passion for this work grew from her desire to assist older adults and spread awareness about programs for this expanding population. When asked about why she chose a career working with aging and disabled populations, she reflects, “I chose this career path because of a passion for working with older adults and recognizing the need for informing and sharing information and programs related to this growing population”. 

Her journey in the aging field began in 2000 as the Director of Older Adult Ministries at Edenton Street United Methodist Church. In 2010, McGuire began her academic journey at NC State within the Department of 4-H, Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences (now known as the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences). She was drawn to this program due to its certificate in Gerontology, aligning with her interest in helping older adults.

After earning her graduate certificate, she continued in the Youth, Family, and Community Sciences graduate program earning her master’s degree with a concentration in Gerontology/Aging and Coaching in 2012. After completing her master’s, she joined Resources for Seniors, Inc. (RFS) as a Senior Care Coordinator, where she connected clients with resources and services to support their independence at home.

In her position as a Senior Care Coordinator, she connected clients with information, resources and services to remain healthy and independent in their own homes for as long as possible. In connecting her work with her studies she states, “There are many opportunities to work with our aging population and sometimes this area is overlooked in college and university courses. NC State offered a variety of classes that enhance one’s understanding of the aging population and intergenerational relationships”.  

Jessica Joyner (Raynor), Jessica Williams and McGuire at their departmental graduation in 2011

Reflecting on her time at NC State, McGuire credits individuals like Andrew Behnke, Kim Allen, and Luci Bearon for encouraging her pursuit of a master’s degree. Her fellow graduate and group partner, Jessica Williams, supported each other in the program and she was the one who alerted McGuire of the job opportunity at RFS in 2013. 

During COVID, McGuire retired from full-time employment with RFS, but has since come back to work in a part-time role as a Service Coordinator. Her current position is at Primavera, a new low-income apartment complex built in Raleigh by DHIC (formerly Downtown Housing Improvement Corporation) in 2023. Her responsibilities include meeting one-on-one and daily interaction with residents at the complex to provide resources for those needing assistance with food, furnishings, health services, Medicaid, Medicare, socialization, transportation and utilities. She also volunteers with the NC Department of Insurance’s Senior Health Insurance Information (SHIIP) program since 2013, assisting Medicare-eligible individuals with navigating their options.

Much of her inspiration has come from the management, staff and coworkers from RFS. She acknowledges, “Over the past three decades our aging population has changed and increased with the times but their basic needs, instrumental activities of daily living and activities of daily living have remained consistent. RFS working with the local community, state and federal agencies has continued to provide support in these many areas of need for older adults and persons with disabilities”. Looking towards the future, McGuire hopes to continue using her knowledge to continue serving the aging and disabled communities through work that she is passionate about.