Summer Internship Leads to Job for Penn State Adult Learner
University Park, Pa. — After seven years of working a full-time job and two part-time jobs to make ends meet, Ridgway resident Patricia Park-Buehler, a single mother of two sons, was ready for a change. She enrolled at Penn State with the goals of earning a degree and finding a good job. During her journey, Park-Buehler worked, took care of her boys, remarried and also dealt with a serious health issue. And her perseverance paid off. She landed a job before completing her bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. Park-Buehler will pick up her degree during fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 18 at University Park campus.
“When I was 33, I was working too much,” said Park-Buehler, now 37. “Instead of more dead-end jobs, I decided to go to college — for my kids and for me.”
Park-Buehler started by taking evening classes through Penn State DuBois Continuing Education at the campus and in St. Marys, through Continuing Education’s partnership with the Community Education Council. She also received the campus’ Alumni Trustee Scholarship. In addition, she enrolled in online classes delivered through Penn State’s World Campus. “Both formats have positives,” she said. “The classroom setting offered more one-on-one interaction with the faculty, and online courses offered flexibility, so I could do course work at midnight.”
While a student, she remarried. Then in 2008, she was diagnosed with undifferentiated connective tissue disease/lupus, an autoimmune disease. “It was very difficult for me. I didn’t make the dean’s list for a time.”
Earlier this year, she received an e-mail from Penn State DuBois Continuing Education about internship opportunities and applied for one. Little Pine Resources, an independent energy company engaged in oil and gas exploration and production in North Texas and central Pennsylvania, invited her to spend the summer at its Clearfield office. “I did case law research and learned about title abstracting,” Park-Buehler said.
Before her internship ended, Park-Buehler was offered a full-time job with the company and started working immediately after the internship ended. She handles quality control for natural gas leases and does lease audits. “I hit it lucky,” she said.
In addition to pursuing her bachelor’s degree, Park-Buehler took three courses in Penn State DuBois Continuing Education’s Marcellus Shale Land Use Practices in Pennsylvania Certificate program. She is using what she learned in both programs on the job.
Park-Buehler also participated in the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon at the campus, and joined Delta Mu Sigma Honor Society, Blue and White Society, National Society of Leadership and Success, and Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges.
What’s next? Park-Buehler is thinking about law school — after Chandler, 15, and Jacob, 13, graduate from high school.
Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 70 of Penn State’s most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. Penn State Continuing Education offers a venue for adults to return to the classroom and reaches more than 30,000 adult learners annually at Penn State campuses statewide. They are part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education, serving more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.