Penn State adult learner turns her passion into a new career

University Park, Pa. -- Tammy Terry always knew she wanted to go to college, but she didn't get the chance to enroll until three years ago at age 36. When the opportunity arose, she knew exactly what she wanted to do: help people. On Dec. 18, when she receives her associate degree in human development and family studies from Penn State, she will be well on her way to a new career doing just that at the Phoenix Center in Alexandria, Pa.

"That's where I'm supposed to be," said Terry, divorced mother of a 16-year-old daughter, of her job with the Phoenix Center, which will open in February. "Working with kids is so rewarding."

Terry previously was team lead at Seven Mountains Academy, a Mifflin County residential treatment facility for teenage girls that recently closed because of the economy. She also participated in an academic internship there, handling case management.

Terry's new career path began years earlier when a niece was battling drug addiction.

"I always stood by my niece," she said. "I tried as hard as I could to help her." While visiting her niece at a rehabilitation facility, Terry had a chance to talk with a therapist. "It was a light bulb moment for me. I knew then I wanted to help people."

She researched college programs and found Penn State offered an associate degree program in human development and family studies at its Learning Center in Lewistown. "It was very convenient," said the long-time Lewistown resident, who recently moved to Mount Union.

Her niece eventually turned her life around, married and had a family.

"I always tell my niece 'thank you,' because she helped me discover my career passion," Terry said.

For information about degree programs for adult learners at the Learning Center in Lewistown and other locations in central Pennsylvania, visit online.

Penn State Continuing Education offers a venue for adults to return to the classroom. Continuing Education reaches more than 30,000 adult learners annually at Penn State campuses statewide. The unit also serves more than 220,000 Pennsylvania youth each year through summer academic and sport camps and other programs at Penn State campuses. Continuing Education is comprised of Conferences, Continuing Education at all Penn State campuses, Management Development Programs and Services, and Shaver's Creek Environmental Center. For more information, visit the Web address above. Continuing Education is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.


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Last Updated December 21, 2009