A passion for working with children inspires one student to grow professionally through and internship and clubs
Amanda Maples is taking advantage of opportunities for leadership and volunteering in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State. In addition to being vice president of Kappa Omicron Nu, an honor society in the college, she is co-secretary of the Human Development and Family Studies Undergraduate Service Organization, where she helps coordinate charity drives and other volunteer events that impact the local community.
Amanda volunteers with THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. After serving on one planning committee for two years and eventually being elected chair of the Lion Scouts committee, Amanda knew what she wanted to do for a career: work with children with cancer or other life-threatening conditions. “To be able to shine a positive light on a bad situation, or ease a child’s pain when they’re in a life-threatening circumstance—it really leaves a lasting impression on those children and it means so much to them,” she says.
Through an HDFS internship, Amanda realized that her dream job was a child life specialist, where she could participate in pre-operative consultations and distract children during painful or uncomfortable medical procedures. Her internship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, allowed Amanda to completely immerse herself in the profession through 400 volunteer hours.
“HDFS really gives you a better understanding of people and how they interact,” she says. “There is so much opportunity for learning in the major: from why children think the way they do to adult development. All of the professors I’ve had were incredibly passionate, too; they really took the extra step to make one-on-one connections with the students. The whole department has a real ‘people first’ mentality. I would recommend it to anyone interested in human services.”
“There’s a whole spectrum of career options in the College of Health and Human Development,” says Amanda. “From social fields to medical fields, you see a lot of diversity in what people want to do, even within each major.”