"My passion for this field stems from losing my dad in a car accident when I was just 6 years old. I will never forget the individuals, neighbors, community services and my first-grade teacher who helped me move through the loss, making me the person I am today. This passion inspires and motivates me to help students pursue and attain a degree in which they can assist, advocate and work with others to make our society a better place."
– Dr. Lorie Kramer, instructor in Rehabilitation and Human Services
This major helps prepare students for entry-level positions in a variety of human service settings, particularly settings that provide services to persons with physical, emotional, or mental disabilities. Graduates pursue employment in a variety of settings including rehabilitation centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior citizens centers, community mental health programs, corrections systems, and hospitals. Increasing opportunities are available in private for-profit insurance programs for the industrially injured, and in employee assistance programs within business and industry. Well-planned use of electives and internships allows for specialization.
More information on Rehabilitation and Human Services
When Dr. Lorie Kramer was 6, her father died in a car accident, and her community reached out to her.
"I will never forget the individuals, neighbors, community services and my first-grade teacher who helped me move through the loss, making me the person I am today," she said.
Students who want to make helping others their life's work might major in the new Rehabilitation and Human Services program that Dr. Kramer coordinates at Penn State Hazleton.
After completing the four-year degree program, students might comfort children who lost a parent. Their clients could just as easily be parents, the elderly or people with disabilities or difficulties.
The field of human services that they will enter after earning their degree crosses all age groups and an array of settings.
Community centers, hospitals, drug treatment agencies, senior citizens' meeting places, rehabilitation clinics or playgrounds might become their workplace.
Career possibilities are equally widespread.
"The job growth and outlook for the rehabilitation and human services field is tremendously good. As the Baby Boom generation ages, there will be an increasing need for these services from highly educated and trained people," Dr. Kramer said.
During their training, students will take courses such as case management, client assessment, introduction to counseling as a profession and group work in the human services.
They also will learn the scientific underpinnings of conditions that affect clients and receive education about culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, aging and diversity.
"It's one of the degrees that fits with a minor in business or psychology or corporate communications and permits that type of work," said Dr. Elizabeth Wright, director of academic affairs at Penn State Hazleton.
Chancellor Dr. Gary Lawler said numerous agencies in the Hazleton region seek to employ people with the training that the major offers.
The new major, he said, expands the training in healthcare provided at the campus.
Penn State Hazleton also offers an associate's degree in medical laboratory technology and programs for practical nurses and physical therapist assistants.
Kramer said students finishing those programs would be eligible to enter the Human Services and Rehabilitation program if they wanted to continue their education and earn a four-year degree.
Students who major in Human Services and Rehabilitation will spend their final semester as interns in a setting where they can practice what they've learned.
"I look forward to getting to know the Hazleton area, building community partnerships and relationships for potential internship sites, and educating students in how to help others," Dr. Kramer said.