1. Tell us about yourself and what your profession is
Defining my profession is a little tricky because it’s not necessarily clear-cut. I started my career as a high school English teacher. I taught American Literature to juniors for five years before I left my job and married another Penn Stater who was in the Navy at the time. During that time, I started freelancing as a writer, which turned into a full-time job as the editor of MilitaryOneClick. Recently, I joined the national non-profit, Blue Star Families, as the Senior Produced Media Manager. I also run my own website on the side and am a co-owner of Swatara Coffee Co., an independent coffee shop my husband and I opened in Jonestown, PA.
2. Tell us about your experience at Penn State
I was a four-year member of the trumpet section in the Blue Band. I also participated in the Pride of the Lions Pep Band, edited the literary magazine Kalliope, interned and TA’ed for a few professors, and was a junior-gate entry into the Schreyer’s Honors College. I spent four years as a member of Lutheran Student Community, attending Bible studies, participating as an elected leader, and worshiping at Grace Lutheran.
I really love(d) Penn State and truly enjoyed my time there; I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to gain a world-class education at that institution. West Hall chocolate chip cookies, subs at In a Pickle in Redifer, and breakfasts reading the Collegian all rank as some of my favorite places and things to eat. Really, the best part of college was the people. I made life-long friends through band and LSC who are phenomenal human beings and have changed my life for the better. (And I met my husband at Penn State, too. And for that, I am especially grateful. I can’t imagine being married to an Ohio State or Michigan fan! )
3. Why do you think your work is important and meaningful in this world?
That is a great question and it’s a little hard for me to answer. Sometimes in the day-to-day, it’s hard to see the larger picture or to feel like it’s meaningful at all when you’re going through a truckload of emails or doing tedious tasks. I see my work as larger than my day job. I see our work as coffee shop owners as creating a place for community, economic opportunity, and artistic expression in our town. My work with Blue Star Families helps to provide opportunities to strengthen military families, which often endure trauma and financial hardship. No matter what my work is, I want to do it with integrity, love, compassion, and honesty.
4. How does your work allow you to use your gifts and talents?
I am able to write for a living through my blog and my day job! That’s pretty exciting. Because I am able to create communication strategy at my job, I’m able to help shine a light on diversity within the military community, which is a particular passion of mine.
5. Is this work what you imagined you’d be doing when you were in college?
Not at all. But that’s okay. It’s been a wonderful journey so far!
6. Any advice for current Penn State students?
Life after Penn State is daunting but exciting. Don’t believe for one minute that the best years of your life are right now (although they are really great!). Your best years are every year you’re alive and have the chance to do good in the world through whatever talents and interests you have.