Kolada gift to help future gerontology students

Miami Merger Mark MGS ’98 and Jodi MGS ’98 Kolada give back to the program they both attended


Mark and Jodi present day.

Mark and Jodi Kolada studied gerontology at Miami University, where they both graduated with Master of Gerontological Studies (MGS) degrees in 1998. After successful careers in the field, the Koladas decided to give back to the community that brought them together.

As an undergraduate student at the University of Manitoba, Mark lived three years with an older aunt and an uncle with Alzheimer’s while he took gerontology courses. “When you can apply what you are learning in school to real-life family situations, it has a profound impact,” Mark said. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Mark continued his education in gerontology at Miami University.

Jodi’s gerontological interest stemmed from her time spent with older adults in the community where her paternal grandmother lived. “The joy and natural comfort I had with relatives and non-familial older adults inspired me to pursue a minor in gerontology at Rutgers and further that education at Miami University,” Jodi explained.

Mark and Jodi met in August 1996 at the start of their MGS program. After a year of being friends and colleagues, the two made their relationship official and later married in September of 2000. 

Currently residing in North Carolina, Mark and Jodi have both enjoyed a successful career path. Mark credits his career launch to Scripps Research Fellow and Professor Robert Applebaum, Ph.D.

“Dr. Applebaum helped put me in contact with the CEO Keren Brown Wilson of Assisted Living Concepts a few months before graduation. I lined up an interview and got a job in Nebraska as a Start Manager for that region in Assisted Living.” Today, Mark is a Regional Director for Life Care Services, a third-party management and development service for Continuing Care Retirement Communities.

Jodi followed Mark to Nebraska and began her career in a social services role at a skilled nursing facility. Now, she works as the Director of Business and Caregiver Outreach with a non-profit that offers home and community-based services to individuals with dementia and their caregivers. “While we took different paths in our careers in the senior industry, we both view our work with older adults and their families as a special gift. It is fulfilling to know we are helping to make a difference,” she explained.

Mark and Jodi in 1998 on their graduation day at Miami University.

As Mark and Jodi considered how to designate their gift, they kept a few things in mind. 

“A couple of criteria were important to us. First, that priority be given based on financial need. We recognize the rising costs of education and felt compelled to help with that since we were the recipients of similar support and can appreciate the impact it has. Secondly, we wanted to focus the support on future gerontology leaders, which are desperately needed going forward,” Mark said.

Mark and Jodi’s gift will sponsor a summer fellowship for an MGS student. 

“Sponsoring a summer fellowship for an MGS student seemed like a natural fit, particularly since a lot of internships are unpaid,” Jodi added. 

Reflecting on their positive experiences at Miami University, the Koladas always had a goal of giving back at some point. The ability to do it while they are still alive is something they are proud to accomplish. 

“I always tell people Miami was good for two things: 1, finding a spouse, and 2, getting a degree!” Mark said. “We will always be indebted to Miami and Scripps for those two things and are very pleased to pay it forward.”