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Lauren Topash and her mentor Michael Linn

HDFS Mentoring Program: Connecting Students to Real World Experiences

Lauren Topash, senior HDFS, and her mentor Michael Linn, ’03 HDFS, recently met at his Greencastle, Pa. family practice office. The goal was to give Lauren a sense of what family counseling is really like. She was able to review materials, paperwork processes, and talk about what a typical day is like for Michael.

Lauren has also taken other steps to gain some real world experiences. For instance, she volunteered as a crisis counselor and worked in a psychiatric unit in a hospital. Michael has supported her in these efforts and met with her regularly to talk about her professional goals. Recently their conversations have turned to graduate school, one of Lauren’s potential goals for next fall.

Lauren and Michael are both open to talking to other students and alumni about their experiences with the HDFS mentoring program. To get in touch with them, email the HDFS APG at

University Park HDFS Students Travel to Pittsburgh for the Child Maltreatment Conference

By Lee Ann Cook, HDFS APG President

At the crack of dawn on April 24, five HDFS undergraduates met at the HUB and boarded a van headed for Pittsburgh, Pa. The goal? To make it to the 9th Annual Pittsburgh Child Maltreatment conference on time in order to catch the opening plenary session. Luckily, they arrived on schedule and were treated to a fascinating presentation by child abuse expert and pediatrician, Dr. Suzanne Starling. The group of students took advantage of the opportunity to network with other professionals. They conversed with lawyers, pediatricians, and social workers who were also in attendance. The students also participated in a variety of breakout sessions on topics including “How to Recognize the Physical signs of Child Abuse” and “Forensic Interviewing.” The educational day was capped off with a lovely networking reception with the organizer, Matthew Arch `06, and other area alumni. They gathered at Franktuary, a hotspot in the trendy Lawrenceville area of the city. One student left with a clear lead on a job in Pittsburgh’s Child Protective Services thanks to an alumni connection.

The HDFS Alumni and Undergraduate Student Organization worked together with The College of Health and Human Development’s Alumni Relations office and the HDFS Department to make this trip a success. Another trip is planned for Pittsburgh next spring, with the possibility of a second trip to a professional conference in Philadelphia or Harrisburg. Let us know if you have suggestions!

A message from the HDFS APG

Dear Fellow HDFS Alumni,

The HDFS APG alumni group is in transition and we need your help. After having served over a year beyond our bylaw’s tenure as president, I have transitioned to the HHD Alumni Board and, as a result, we are in need of a new president. The APG also needs a vice president and secretary as well as two new board members. This is your opportunity to take the lead and move the APG to the next level. Since restarting the APG a few short years ago, we have revised and re-established the administrative requirements for the APG, helped coordinate two career panel discussions, designed a post card that is sent to all new HDFS graduates that congratulates them and invites them to join the APG, began to establish networking through our new LinkedIn group that now has over 200 members, and held our first ice cream social during last year’s Arts Fest.

More information and job descriptions about these volunteer positions are available from the Alumni Relations Office. We invite you to forward your letter of interest that outlines your qualifications to: Kristi Stoehr, Director of Alumni Relations, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Henderson Building, University Park, PA 16802. Her phone and e-mail are: 814-863-2207;

I am available to speak with you directly to answer any questions, and I will be available and happy to provide guidance to the selected candidates. I can be reached at I hope you consider and act on this invitation. Thank you and all the best in the new year.

John A. Soubik '85 IFS
Past HDFS APG President


Alumni and friends of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies can keep up to date with news at the HDFS news website.

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award

One of our graduates, Karen B. Peetz (’77, B.S.) received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Board of Trustees at the ceremony on June 4. Ms. Peetz is chief executive officer of financial markets and treasury services, and senior vice president of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.

At an award luncheon, President Spanier, who taught Ms. Peetz when she was an undergraduate student at Penn State, described her as the best student he ever had. Ms. Peetz said that the knowledge and skills she acquired as an Individual and Family Studies major (the forerunner of HDFS) contributed every day to her work, including understanding people and families, knowing how to run a group meeting, and being able to motivate a team.