Our Students

One student builds his leadership skills and helps other students excel

Michael Capehart is getting a head start on professional development and helping others do the same by taking advantages of opportunities in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State.

Michael is excited about helping other people, and he took part in some of the many service organizations available at Penn State. He volunteered at Mount Nittany Medical Center (MNMC), where he created a database for nursing courses MNMC offered, and he was a part of the Healthy Penn State campaign, for which he helped promote an advertising campaign to direct students to healthy places on campus to eat.

A student focused on developing his leadership skills, Michael is president of Phi Beta Sigma, a service-based fraternity. With this organization, he helped lead five programming events each year, which included comedy shows, stepping shows, and events focused on helping African American students develop professional skills.

“I really want to be a role model for others, so that’s what we try to do—help other students become role models,” he says.

Michael was first enrolled as an accounting a premedicine major, but he wanted to combine the two. “I always knew I wanted to be in health care, and I also love numbers,” he says. Through a brother in his fraternity, he was introduced to an adviser in the College of Health and Human Development.

“Just from meeting the advisers,” he says, “it seemed pretty clear that Health Policy and Administration was the right major for me.”

The faculty, staff, and advisers in the college have been a highlight of Michael’s college experience. “There are always smiles on their faces. I always feel comfortable talking with them—I can go to just about any of my previous teachers’ doors and knock, just to say hi. I’m constantly in contact with them,” he says.

One class he took gave him a chance to gain hands-on experience working with a local office that coordinated the area’s Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Michael and his classmates helped the organization publicize its services through a bus advertising campaign.

“The professors connected us with actual hospitals and health care facilities,” he says, “and they have the real-world experience to make the courses realistic, to let us know how we’re going to apply what we learn.”

Michael loves being a part of the HPA program. “The program is going places. It’s really growing.” He has tried to give back to the department by mentoring first-year and sophomore students and by being a discussion leader in first- and second-year courses.

After graduation, Michael wants to go into consulting, which he expects will accelerate his education in the health care field. He knows that his experience at Penn State is preparing him for this.