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October 2015

Following in her late mother’s footsteps, Maddison Booge has always dreamed of becoming a teacher. As a senior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies, she is gaining the experience and skills needed to carry out that dream.

Booge’s inspiration for working with children comes from her mother, who passed away from breast cancer during Booge’s freshman year at Penn State.

“I’ve always had a passion for working with kids,” the Downingtown, Pennsylvania native said. “I saw the influence my mom had on children’s lives, and I saw how happy the children made her. I want to do that.”

More than 4,500 Penn State students are enrolled in the College of Health and Human Development (HHD) studying a wide-array of fields, each committed to the concept of improving the quality of life for others. Booge, who found a home in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) is one of those HHD students, and this is her story.

During the 2015 summer break, Booge worked at Gretchen’s House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a child development and educational program for infants through school-aged children. For the past two semesters, through HDFS courses, she also volunteered at the Bennett Family Center on the University Park campus, where she will start an internship this spring.

“When I was little, I would always pretend to be a teacher and teach my own invisible class,” Booge said. “I actually asked my dad to build me a pretend classroom in our basement. The passion to help others has always been there. No matter what trials and tribulations I have faced, my heart has remained with the children. My personal and professional goal in life is to become a positive, influential teacher of young children.”

One influential course for Booge was HDFS 330, Observation or Experience with Children, Youth, and Families, in which Booge created lesson plans for students at the Bennett Family Center. The course was taught by Wendy Whitesell.

“This class gave me the opportunity to spend time with infants and toddlers, as well as preschool-aged children,” she said. “This gave me the chance to finally work with children in a classroom and do the thing that I have always wanted to do. There is something about walking into a classroom and seeing a child’s smiling face.”

Her experience at Gretchen’s House and the Bennett Family Center helped Booge understand and practice supporting all aspects of a child’s life, including his or her caregivers.

“Parents play such an important role in a child’s growth and development,” Booge said. “By working with parents, I can support and help them give their children the best educational, social and physical growth environment I can. Every child deserves a great start and I hope to be a person who can give them one.”





After graduation, Booge plans to become a teacher and work her way up to an administrative position.

“I hope to begin my career as a teacher, getting to work one-on-one with children of any and every age,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to become a preschool director. Shaping a program and school would allow me to work with a community. This would give me the chance to continue having a positive educational influence on children, while also allowing me to help their parents as well.”

Booge’s mother was a director at a preschool, which allowed her to both oversee the children and activities, but also be hands-on.

“She was a preschool teacher, preschool director, and also an aid in an elementary school classroom,” Booge said. “She had a passion to work with children and to be a positive influence on them. This is something that I hope and plan on emulating when I graduate. My mother was someone that the children would run up to with smiling faces. She formed such a close bond with all the children and their parents. She wanted to make sure each child was getting everything they needed and that the parents were as well.”

In addition to HDFS, there are a variety of areas for students to study within HHD through the Departments of Biobehavioral Health, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Health Policy and Administration, Kinesiology, Nutritional Sciences, Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, and the School of Hospitality Management.