One student finds ways to lead and serve others
Joey Schwartz is refining his leadership skills and serving the community with help from opportunities in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State.
Initially enrolled as an Education major, Joey quickly switched to Human Development and Family Studies because of the broad opportunities HDFS afforded to him. “I realized my strengths were in my creative abilities, and I knew I wanted to teach children in my own unique way,” he says.
Joey has been heavily involved in campus life, which has helped him make a difference in the community. “I’ve tried to use the tools I’ve learned to make Penn State a better place,” he says. Involvement in one student activity as a first-year student—THON— allowed him to pursue his passion of serving others. THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raises money for pediatric cancer research.
As THON’s organization liaison coordinator, Joey provides leadership, support, and tools to leaders of the 400+ organizations that work with THON. “I try to make sure they get the most out of their experience with THON—by enjoying it, developing their leadership skills, and achieving their personal goals. I love seeing people progress and grow and knowing that I’m a part of their efforts,” he says.
Joey's efforts to help others have helped raise a significant amount of money for THON, too. In 2009, as CSG liaison for commonwealth campuses, Schwartz provided tools to volunteers at nineteen Penn State campuses and two special-mission organizations; the group, with support from Schwartz, raised over $500,000.
His experience with THON led him to talk with a child life specialist, who worked in a medical setting, helping to boost children’s morale prior to major operations. Joey instantly felt connected to this type of job, and he began to take classes in HDFS that would prepare him for this.
One of his favorite courses was on child maltreatment, taught by Dr. Sarah Kollat, senior instructor in HDFS, which explored the child welfare system in the United States. “The way she presented the information, it made me want to be proactive, to better understand the child welfare system as it stands today and see where we can take it as professionals,” he says.
A change-of-assignment student, Joey began his studies at the Penn State Hazelton campus. But the transition between locations was smooth, in large part because of the HDFS faculty and advisers he met at both campuses. Those faculty and advisers have enhanced his experience at Penn State: “The professors in the college and in HDFS get to know you personally—what your dreams are—and they help you achieve what you want to achieve,” he says.
Joey knows that wherever his career takes him, his experience at Penn State has helped prepare him to make a difference in the lives of others.
“What I can do after I leave and also what I’ve learned here have given me a broad outlook on life and how I can help people,” he says.