We recently spoke to Kathy Stuart about her experience as a three-time alumna of Penn State:
Degrees and graduation years:
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, 2011
- Master of Public Administration, 2013
- Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security, 2014
Current hometown: Warriors Mark, Pennsylvania
Current career and workplace: Flight Paramedic, Life Lion Critical Care Transport Service, Penn State Hershey Medical Center (full-time); 9.1.1 Telecommunicator, Juniata County Emergency Services (part-time); Adjunct Instructor – Emergency Medical Services, Harrisburg Area Community College (per diem)
What does a typical workday look for you?
My typical workday at my full-time job begins at 7:00 p.m. I work permanent night shift (and I love it!). At 7:00 p.m., my nurse partner and I sit with the off-going day shift crew and get a report about what they did on their shift and what may be pending for night shift. About 30 minutes into the shift, we get a safety and weather brief from our pilot. Then we do a physical inventory of supplies on the aircraft to make sure that we have everything we need to do our job of transporting critically ill and injured patients from the scene of accidents or from smaller hospitals to Penn State Hershey Medical Center. After that, we wait. Some days we are busy for the entire 12-hour shift; some days we may only fly once or twice. Some days we don’t fly at all!
How did you get into the field you are working in?
I had a roommate, when I attended the Penn State University Park campus, who got into emergency services, and I was fascinated by it. A few years later, I took my first EMT class; then I went on to become a paramedic. After working ground EMS for many years, I had gained enough experience to apply for a flight job, which I was lucky enough to get with Penn State!
How has Penn State World Campus impacted your career?
Penn State remains a very big part of my life, even after graduation. As mentioned, I work for Penn State through Penn State Health and Penn State Hershey Medical Center. I am forever grateful to Penn State for developing such a tremendous program through Penn State World Campus. Had it not been for being able to take classes online, I would not have had the opportunity to finish my B.S. or to obtain my two master’s degrees.
What were some of the challenges you faced as a Penn State World Campus student? How did you overcome these challenges?
The biggest challenge that I faced was having to work three jobs while attending classes. Since I was an adult learner, I did not have the luxury of not working. I was able to overcome this challenge through diligence and discipline. The courses through Penn State World Campus are structured in a very similar way to the traditional classroom schedule as far as homework and project due dates. Assignments were given at the beginning of each week along with the due dates. I was able to plan my week according to when my assignments were due for the week and study around my work schedule. I made plans to do most of my course work on my days off, which worked out great for me. My advisers were also a big help. They were always available to give assistance in person or over the telephone.
How else do you stay connected with Penn State?
Working for Penn State keeps me somewhat connected. I also began volunteering as an Alumni Ambassador soon after I graduated, assisting potential students by giving them information about my degrees and answering any other questions they may have. Last year I was selected to serve on the World Campus Alumni Society Board, which gives me the opportunity to help recent alumni stay connected with Penn State. I bleed blue and white, so I cannot imagine my life without Penn State in it!
What advice would you give to current Penn State World Campus students?
Stay the course — you will get there! When you graduate, stay connected with Penn State. You will be so happy that you did. The World Campus Alumni Society is a great way to stay involved with other Penn State World Campus alumni and to take advantage of many alumni services, such as résumé assistance. Also, give back. Get involved with other alumni services. Personally, I love being an Alumni Ambassador and helping students who are in the same spot that I was in a few years ago. It is so very rewarding!