Dr. Mark Stephens walks into new chapter of his life

October 13, 2016

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be a bumpy adjustment. Dr. Mark Stephens saw the potential struggles and decided to do something about it: he took a walk – a long one.

Stephens recently retired from the U.S. Navy and is now helping develop a new curriculum at Penn State College of Medicine University Park Regional Campus. Stephens thought the long walk would be a symbolic way to transition from one stage of his life to the next.

“I have watched enough friends and colleagues struggle during the transition from military to civilian life,” he said. “I wanted to have the time and space for contemplation. It’s hard to turn off the Navy one day and turn on Penn State the next.”

It also was a chance to raise money for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon – also known as THON. While the Penn State alumnus never had a chance to dance for 46 hours to raise money for pediatric cancer patients and research at Penn State Children’s Hospital, the walk would be just as physically strenuous.

The route from Washington D.C. to State College was straightforward: small town to small town the whole way, about 20 miles a day, spending the night at bed and breakfasts.

Stephens left Washington D.C. on Sept. 1 with a friend, who dropped him off in Rockville, Maryland, so he could start the walk outside the pedestrian-unfriendly capital beltway.

At times, he questioned whether walking was a safe thing to do and whether he was doing it for the right reasons. Other times, he waved to the drivers of passing cars and was impressed by the simple act of kindness that many of them exchanged simply by waving back.

Learn more about Stephens’ journey to Penn State in this Penn State Medicine article.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 13, 2016