The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

‘Lifetime learners’

Rohana Meyerson and Cassandra Barnett prove that it’s never too late to be a student
Rohana “Ana” Meyerson and Cassandra Barnett are living proof that it’s never too late to pursue one’s passions. (Photos by Trebor Maitin ’24 and Elisabeth Seidel ’26 for The Lafayette)

Not all Lafayette students are 20-somethings trying to figure out their first steps into adulthood. For Rohana Meyerson and Cassandra Barnett, knowledge is a lifelong passion.

Rohana “Ana” Meyerson

Rohana “Ana” Meyerson considers herself a sophomore, but she started taking classes when most of the class of 2026 was just born. In fact, it was only after working for almost a decade in the geology department as its secretary that Meyerson decided she would pursue a degree in geology.

“As I watched all the students here doing their homework and watching the way they study and thinking ‘Oh my God, they’re so smart,’ I said, ‘I want to learn what they’re learning,’” Meyerson said.

So, she signed up for Geology 110: Environmental Geology. Meyerson has been taking one class each semester ever since.

“I’ve always liked to be in an academic setting, working with and interacting with students,” she said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that was given to me to be able to take classes here and also to be working here.”

Geology professor David Sunderlin is both a co-worker of Meyerson’s and an informal advisor – he considers Meyerson to be a part of his family. 

“I think she reminds folks … that you can learn something for the sake of learning and that it doesn’t have to be towards some future goal, it can just be for the goal of learning it right now,” Sunderlin said. “That’s a contagious thing to have in the classroom.”

Meyerson, for her part, has embraced the role of a mentor to her fellow students.

“My main task is to look after the geology students – be a ‘geo-mom’ to them,” she said.

And her passion for geology doesn’t stop when she leaves Van Wickle. At home, she’s been known to craft geologically-themed baked goods, bringing her trilobite cookies and fault system layer cakes to class or to the geology department’s holiday party.

After obtaining her degree, which Meyerson says she is in “no rush” to do, she hopes to enter retirement and join the United States Geological Survey.

Cassandra Barnett 

Cassandra Barnett is a piano teacher, but she loves learning just as much as teaching. She audits, or enrolls in without receiving a grade, classes at Lafayette for fun.

Barnett first targeted Lafayette’s art department, taking all but one of the available art history courses one by one. She had been interested in the subject since her sophomore year of college.

“My second semester, I applied for all these art history courses and they said, ‘No, you can’t take those because it’s not part of your curriculum,’” Barnett said. “That’s part of the beauty of this – I don’t have to stick to any particular curriculum.” 

At Lafayette, Barnett’s choice of classes are entirely based on one simple principle: “Whatever sounds good.” 

Seven years in, Barnett has taken a wide range of classes, from the art course “Age of Michelangelo” to “Perspectives and Debates in Latin American & Caribbean Studies.”

“You can be pretty sure you’ll never meet me in a science class or a math class,” Barnett said.

In her classes, Barnett often finds that because of her age, fellow students will first assume that she’s just there to observe, watching the professor or the class. 

“Then I keep coming back and they go, ‘Wait a minute, why is she still here?’” Barnett said. “Then somebody starts talking to me and they realize that I’m just a student here, and bit by bit they accept me.”

To retired art history professor Diane Ahl, who taught several of Barnett’s favorite classes, Barnett’s presence in the classroom created an interesting dynamic.

“When you’re twenty-one years old, it’s an abstraction to talk about being a ‘lifetime learner,’ but there she was,” Ahl said.  “And when she was in class, students would rise to that level. They knew it was important that someone who didn’t have to be there was there.”

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About the Contributors
Elisabeth Seidel
Elisabeth Seidel, Design Director/Assistant Business Manager
The funniest culture designer.
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.

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