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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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Caroline Stacks '19

Pursuing a master's degree in speech-language pathology

Caroline Stacks has been busy since earning her HDFS degree in 2019!  For the past year, she has been a graduate student in a speech-language pathology master’s degree program, and although she has found her first year of grad school to be a bit challenging, she feels well-prepared from her major in HDFS and minor in Deafness and Hearing Studies.  

Caroline’s path to discovering her career was an interesting one.  In high school, Caroline was focused on becoming a therapist, but her freshman year in college encouraged her to explore other avenues.  She began immersing herself in as many opportunities as possible—she worked in the campus daycare, volunteered as an HHD ambassador, participated in the Women's Leadership Initiative, and served as a research assistant. 

In high school, Caroline was focused on becoming a therapist, but her freshman year in college encouraged her to explore other avenues.  She began immersing herself in as many opportunities as possible.

Caroline spent a lot of time exploring different professions, through YouTube videos from human service professions to career aptitude tests.  By the fall of her junior year, Caroline had taken a Communication Sciences and Disorders class and loved it.  And so, she made the decision to minor in Communication Speech Disorders.  With guidance from Penn State advisors and the community, she secured an internship at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and split her time between the social work team and the social outreach professionals. This internship was invaluable to her graduate school admission. 

As a undergraduate, Caroline has fond memories of her participation in NOTA, Penn State's oldest co-ed a cappella group. She also remembers her time spent in Beaver Stadium for football games, something she experienced with her parents as a child. 

She continues to enjoy singing, doing anything outdoors—biking, hiking, walking, and picnics—and getting to know people in her world.  She truly enjoys talking with and learning about others’ passions and stories. 

Caroline's advice to students just starting their Penn State career:  find a staff member, professor, or adviser that you feel comfortable with. Make a connection and bond as you explore the multiple opportunities on and off campus.  And, from Caroline’s experience, there are plenty!

This profile was published September 2021.