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Human services grad recounts roundabout road to job satisfaction

Alumna Kate Stepnick returned to campus Wednesday, sharing her circuitous journey from graduate to a rewarding position as camp director at an area facility for children with special needs.

“I absolutely loved being at Penn College and believe that my education prepared me for every single job that I have had over the last 12 years,” she told faculty prior to her visit. “It took me some time to find my passion, but I know that going into human services was the right career path for me.”

Kate Stepnick, a 2007 graduate in applied human services, talks to a Klump Academic Center audience Wednesday. (Photo by Elizabeth E. Winder, assistant professor, human services)
Kate Stepnick, a 2007 graduate in applied human services, talks to a Klump Academic Center audience Wednesday. (Photo by Elizabeth E. Winder, assistant professor, human services)

She worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters, at an adoption/foster care agency and in an Early Head Start program before obtaining her master’s degree in school counseling from Eastern University.

She was employed as a mobile therapist in the Harrisburg area for five years after graduate school, then moved to Millville in July 2018 to join the Camp Victory staff. The site serves more than 1,600 youngsters each year, providing them an accessible summer camp experience.

“What I liked most about Kate’s talk was that she talked about the field of human services and how broad it can feel and that might be overwhelming to decide how to use the degree,” said Sarah S. Moore, human services instructor. “However, the benefit of that is that the possibilities that are out there with this degree are unimaginable.

“She worked several jobs until she was able to find a one that felt like the perfect fit. Her most memorable job experience is seeing children of all ages, regardless of ability, have the opportunity to enter a fully accessible swimming pool, take a ride on a zip line and climb a climbing wall just like ‘any other kid’ – although, for children with disabilities, accessibility isn’t always a guarantee at a traditional camp.”

“She spoke clearly and gave great detail about her experiences and she also inspired me to not give up and to keep on going,” added Ashlee E. Massey, a human services and restorative justice student from Williamsport. “Even if you don’t find an interest in one job, then move around in the field until you find something that you like.”

Classmate Colin G. Browne said he never really thought about being an able-bodied person until Stepnick talked about children who don’t get to experience camp activities.

“It was interesting, and a field of work I never thought of as a possibility,” he said.

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