College of Education > News and Publications > News: Oct. - Dec. 2010 > Mentors Help a Student Find Success and a Career

Mentors Help a Student Find Success and a Career

Alexa Hodge, senior in Rehabilitation and Human services, plans to attend graduate school for mental health counseling. She discusses her involvement at Penn State and her future plans.

by Marilyn Perez (January 2011)

Alexa Hodge never really wanted to go to college for any degree. Four years, and a number of mentors later, she is a Penn State Ronald E. McNair scholar with plans to, one day, earn a doctorate degree.

Alexa with 2 other students holding donation checkHodge is a Penn State senior working towards a major in rehabilitation and human services with a minor in human development and family studies. Hodge will graduate in spring 2011.

She is not certain what career she wants to pursue, but she would like to work towards helping people. Eventually, Hodge wants to get her doctorate and become a professor. For now, however, she is applying to graduate programs in mental health and school counseling.

“I feel like a lot of people come to a school like Penn State and don’t know a lot of things that could benefit them,” Hodge said. “If I know it, I want to share it. I really appreciate when people share information with me, so I love to share what I know with others.”

When Hodge was in high school, she was selected to participate in the Summer College Opportunity Program in Education (SCOPE) at Penn State. SCOPE is a four-week academic intensive program for high school students from under-represented backgrounds that focuses on learning about the field of education and higher education in general. The directors of the program convinced Hodge to at least apply to college.

“The only reason I applied to SCOPE was because I was in this club, the Future Educators Association,” said Hodge. “And the only reason I was in that club is because one day my friend asked me to join with her.”

Next thing she knew, she was an undergraduate student at Penn State.

“My life has just been that way,” she said. “If I think ‘Oh, ok, I can do that,’ then things just fall into place.”

Hodge recently received the Pennsylvania Trio Scholarship Award, which recognizes perseverance and leadership skills. She is also the recipient of the Student Leader Award and the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Award for Leadership and Advocacy, for which three Penn State professors nominated her.

“I was blown away at the fact that they nominated me for it, and even more so that I got it,” Hodge said. “It’s for the whole state of Pennsylvania. It was just amazing.”

Hodge owns a 3.79 GPA, and has been a McNair scholar since the spring of 2010. The program tries to expose its scholars to the options of graduate school and doctoral studies. She said the program is for under-represented people.

“Under-represented people can be a lot of things,” she said. “It can be people who come from low-income backgrounds, first-generation college students, or racial minorities. I fall into all of those categories.”

Hodge is the president of the College’s Multicultural Education Student Association. She also volunteers with The Second Mile’s Friend Program, which aims to give at-risk children (aged 7-13) a chance to act youthful and have fun.

She is also president of the Rehabilitation Human Services Student Organization, which attempts to build a social network and a human service network for people in the RHS major.

“Something that I instituted this year as president is a career highlight during every meeting, featuring occupational therapy or drug and alcohol counseling, or any career related to human services,” Hodge said. “We’re making people more aware of their options.”

Additionally, Hodge has been a program assistant at Pennypacker residence hall for three years. Hodge said Pennypacker has the highest minority percentage on campus and houses science and engineering students, Bunton-Waller Fellows, and Lenfest Scholars.

“I feel great helping my residents and knowing that they know something because of me,” Hodge said. “I advise any student at Penn State to know your resources and utilize them.”

Hodge said she stays involved on campus because it’s the type of person she is. She aims to be a person who sticks to her word.

“Once I do something, I stay committed,” she said. “It’s just who I am.”