Tara Gruenewald

USC Davis School of Gerontology
Tara Gruenewald
Photo by Steve Cohn Photography

A key focus of the scientific research in my lab is understanding how feeling and being generative promotes better health and well-being across the life course. To be generative is to give of your time, energy, and wisdom to enhance others’ well-being and development. Generativity’s focus is often the raising up of the next generation of scholars, mentors, teachers, parents, and citizens. To mentor is one of life’s most generative acts, as mentors help mentees not only learn how to successfully utilize knowledge in context, but also how to optimize the implementation of their individual strengths and abilities for personal and societal betterment.

As Emerson noted, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” In trying to give my mentees the practical knowledge and self-confidence they need to pursue their aspirations, I am also given much in return. It is a precious gift to witness another’s learning, growth, and development. To feel that I have played a role in such transformations is an important fuel for my own personal and professional endeavors. I am so thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with talented and passionate young scholars in the scientific investigation of how in contributing to others we contribute to ourselves and to experience firsthand the rewards of generative mentorship, and to know that we all benefit from helping the next generation thrive and succeed.