Penn State alumna Cathy Rein donated $1 million to Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts to assist students in turning their degrees into fulfilling careers.
"When I was a student at Penn State, it was a financial struggle. I have contributed to Penn State for years to help students so they do not struggle as much as I did," Rein said.
Many of Rein’s previous donations were in the form of scholarships, but Rein’s most recent contribution will go toward a different cause, the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network.
"Cathy Rein's generous estate gift to support the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network reinforces the importance of career education experiences for students in the liberal arts." Susan Knell, director of the Career Enrichment Network, wrote in an email.
The Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network was established last year to provide enrichment opportunities for students in the College of the Liberal Arts to experience the ways in which they can apply their degree in the working world, Knell wrote.
"The Network was created to better enable our liberal arts students to navigate successfully the transition from college to the world of meaningful work," Christopher Long, associate dean for undergraduate studies and Professor of Philosophy and Classics, wrote in an email.
"Cathy recognizes the important skill sets our liberal arts majors bring to every sector of a rapidly changing global economy, and her gift will help ensure that graduates from the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State have a competitive advantage in a very tight job market," Long wrote.
Currently, the network offers assistance with identifying and preparing for internship opportunities, alumni mentoring to provide career coaching and advice, international experiences such as study abroad or international internships, and undergraduate research, Knell wrote.
"Penn State has demonstrated and the public acknowledges that very fine trained and educated people come out of this university and it is a tough time for anyone to find jobs. It is important Penn State is taking the initiative and using its skills to place students in jobs where they improve the economy and also themselves," Rein said.
As a liberal arts major herself, Rein said she is aware of the stereotype that liberal arts majors are "unemployable," but with the addition of this new network, students will be matched with employers and assisted in describing their skills to potential employers.
"The mission of the Network is to enable liberal arts students to live a fulfilling life by enriching their education and connecting them to resources that expand their career opportunities. Although a liberal arts education is often characterized as impractical, in fact employers often express strong interest in hiring people with precisely the skills our liberal arts students have." Long wrote.
This academic year, a new program is being offered to liberal arts students. Faculty and graduate students in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Department designed the Leadership Enrichment through Assessment and Development, Knell wrote.
Rein said her donation will help take the program off the ground.
"Liberal Arts LEAD participants will gain a better understanding of their particular strengths while also learning of career areas for which their skills and personalities would be a natural fit," Knell wrote.
The fall 2012 professional development programming options will include sessions on networking and the job hunting process, "webinars" on career opportunities within government agencies and informational sessions from companies and organizations seeking liberal arts majors, Knell wrote.