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Director of liberal arts career enrichment retires after 27 years at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumnus Susan Knell, founding director of the College of the Liberal Arts’ Career Enrichment Network (CEN), is retiring after a 27-year career at Penn State.

A first-generation student when she entered Penn State, Knell earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in business and liberal arts as well as a master’s degree in counselor education.

As a student, Knell said she regretted not taking advantage of experiences and opportunities outside of the classroom — a realization that would influence the advice she gave to students later in life. his career. After graduation and a job at a local environmental consulting firm, Knell returned to Penn State part-time to get her teacher certification because she thought “that’s what school majors are all about.” English are supposed to do”. Despite graduating and a semester teaching students, Knell said she wasn’t interested in being in the classroom.

In 1995, however, Knell would again find himself interacting with students, but in a much different capacity. She was hired as a staff assistant, then promoted to coordinator, then assistant director of the office of cooperative education at Eberly College of Science.

“That’s where I discovered that I really enjoyed working with college students and was inspired to get my master’s degree in counselor education,” she said.

After 11 years at Eberly, where she eventually became director of science and international education, Knell heard about a new career center being established at the College of the Liberal Arts. She jumped at the chance to shape a new center and help students at her home college and was named the inaugural director of the Career Enrichment Network in September 2011.

“I was excited to help students realize the value of their liberal arts degrees and articulate the value they can bring to a range of professions,” Knell said. “I wanted to help students understand that for most people in the workplace, it’s less about your academic major and more about the skills and enthusiasm you can bring to an organization. Employers tell us they love hiring liberal arts students because they bring a different perspective, have great communication skills, and have the research and critical thinking skills that are really needed. At work.

A new start

Knell began his new role with a metal desk and permission to hire two full-time staff members. Eventually, she was able to hire additional professionals, each of whom focused on different aspects of the office, from promoting global experiences to connecting students with liberal arts alumni mentors. Today, CEN has five and a half staff members plus student assistants.

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