Nick Taylor pushes a preschooler on a swing

Volunteer work ultimately helps alumnus launch career

The campus' HDFS program gave alumnus Nick Taylor the knowledge and skills he needs to help children and families--a goal that has always been important to him.

By: Brooke Doerfler

When Penn State Shenango alumnus Nick Taylor arrived on campus, he wasn’t sure what major he would pursue, but he did know that he wanted to help children.

“I was the first in my family to go to college,” said Nick. “My dad was a factory worker, and my mom worked retail. My dad said that if you find something you enjoy, you’ll never work a day in your life. I wanted to find that kind of career.”

In addition to working with children, Nick knew that he wanted to serve his community, but he recognized that being a teacher or working in the medical field were not the right fit for him.

When Nick took the introductory course in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), he was sure he had found what he was looking for. Working in the human services field would give him the opportunity to accomplish his life’s goals, as well as to be passionate about his work.

One requirement of the Penn State HDFS program is that students need to complete volunteer work in their field. Nick turned this requirement into an opportunity that would help launch the remainder of his studies and forthcoming career.

“I began volunteering at New Light Christian Education Center my sophomore year,” said Nick. “My relationships with the children and staff at the center made me want to continue there, so I kept finding ways to fit volunteering into my schedule.”

Squeezing in volunteer hours definitely paid off. While Nick worked at the center, he developed a network of professionals who wanted to see him succeed. These individuals became very important when Nick began to seek internship opportunities.  

One individual from his network was April Torrence, director of the New Light Education Center. When Nick requested to complete his senior internship at the center, Torrence was thrilled to accept. Nick was quickly put to work talking to local business leaders, corresponding with news and radio personnel, and video chatting with children in South Africa.

Nick now works as a behavioral counseling technician while he completes his master’s degree. He fondly remembers his time at Penn State. “Shenango played a huge role in my life," he said. "I still feel like I’m part of the Penn State family, and I love what I’m doing.”