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What is Health and Human Development?

Diverse fields of study that share one
common goal: enriching the lives of others.

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Elisabeth James

HDFS degree set the path to career as a mental health counselor

This month, we spotlight a recent grad who found her passion in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). Elisabeth James was intrigued with HDFS in her early days as a first-year student. One of her fondest memories of Penn State was listening to Sherry Corneal in one of her first classes in HDFS, and thus realizing how important the major is and what it brings to our society. That class carried her through to receiving her Masters in Counseling Education with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health in Schools and Communities in May 2021. She was able to share her enthusiasm and passion by serving as a graduate teaching assistant in four different HHD classes while obtaining her master's degree. The connections with undergrads, as well as the HHD faculty, fueled her work. She highly recommends that any undergrad be sure to connect with the HDFS faculty as those relationships can feed and define one’s future.

Our children are our future and Elisabeth looks forward to continue to work with her clients in this next phase of her life.

Elisabeth’s internship on the way to earning her Master’s was as a Mental Health Counselor with the State College Area School District, which was coordinated by Penn State’s Herr Clinic. This important community mental health outreach provides counseling services for children, adolescents and young adults. Heightened mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety, have been on the rise in the past 18 months in children as well as in adults, largely in part due to COVID-19. Elisabeth was able to foster important connections with some clients, which allowed them to discover more about themselves. This is just one example of the beauty and importance of the HDFS department at Penn State. What better societal contribution can we make then to help another in need?

Elisabeth’s classes in many areas such as diagnosis, addictions, group work, adolescent and family counseling, as well as her therapeutic internship make her an ideal candidate for this critical area of our world today.  Our children are our future and she looks forward to continue to work with her clients in this next phase of her life.  Elisabeth is an avid reader, particularly about counseling techniques and strategies, and she enjoys spending time with friends and family in the area.  Elisabeth greatly appreciated her time as an HDFS undergraduate student, and is looking forward to her next steps forward! 

This profile was published July 2021.