More Than a Degree

Published 05.11.2017

Lauren Crouse

by Lauren Crouse

Applied Human Services Alumni


Growing into who you are is something that takes a level of self-awareness and hard work. Transition occurs throughout everyone’s lives at different times and in different ways.

Sometimes we may be more aware of the changes occurring in others than ourselves; I know I was. In a few short days I will walk across the stage in the Community Arts Center, transitioning to the next stage of my life, not realizing the impact of my time at Penn College, until now.

I reflect on the past couple years to understand the growth of myself – the growth into who I have become. My first priority when starting college was getting my degree, but I have learned that some lessons are best taught outside of the classroom. I began my time at Penn College just going through the motions instead of valuing the investment I was making for my education, for myself. It was not until my sophomore year that I began to value the overall experience it takes to obtain a degree instead of just earning credits.

Once I got involved throughout the college, I began to learn from others, learn about the world around me, but more importantly I learned from myself. When I think of my B.S. in Applied Human Services that I will be receiving in a few short days, I think more about the quality of my education and not so much about the quantity. The value of my experience throughout the college is the people who touched my life more so than the credits I received. The Penn College community granted me the opportunity to be a student leader in many different offices. I worked with the Off-Campus and Commuter Services Office, Residence Life, Admissions, Disability Services and Student Activities. Each of these roles was very unique and provided irreplaceable mentoring.

I know that I am being the best version of myself when I am treating others with the same support that I have received as a student leader. The support I received has allowed me to grow into a person who is strong and confident.

One moment that left a lasting impression happened in the Commuter Lounge in the Bush Campus Center. I was preparing for a spirit event my sophomore year. Two others and myself, were making signs to cheer on the basketball team. My biggest weakness is crafting. I looked over at a graphic design student and decided to ask for help. It may seem like a simple act, but this moment taught me that it is OK to ask for help and learn from others. This student and I grew to become close friends. I now look up to her in many ways. She is someone that I will be honored to walk across the same stage and share the President’s Award with. If it would not have been for that small moment in the Commuter Lounge, I would have missed out on a great friend.

If I could pass a piece of advice to all students, faculty, and staff: Challenge yourself to do more than go through the motions; stop looking at each credit, each semester, and academic year. The experience is so much more than the approximately 120 credits to receive a bachelor’s degree and so much more than the approximately 60 credits for an associate’s degree. It is what it took to get you there. As I enter my last couple days here at Penn College, I want to leave a mark on the path that people take to grow as a person; I want to challenge everyone to help others grow but, more importantly, challenge yourself to grow. Get involved in something you care about; start up a new hobby. Instead of only investing in a diploma, take time and invest in yourself.