Jeremiah Hassel, Features Editor
When most people make the decision to attend a four-year university and undertake the arduous journey toward a degree, they expect to be challenged by their classes, to make new friends, and to have the time of their lives while doing so. Another staple of the college experience, however, can be the fortuitous meeting of significant others and the understanding of love, an understanding that proved fruitful for 2007 Penn State Behrend graduate Jennifer Soltis, the wife of Scott Soltis, Ph.D., who was featured as a former Student Government Association (SGA) president and Behrend Beacon editor.
Soltis began building both her professional career and personal life with her undergraduate education at Behrend, majoring in English and professional writing. She participated in several activities, serving as Orientation Leader for two years before becoming the Orientation Director, the copy editor for the Behrend Beacon before being promoted to news editor, then editor-in-chief, and was a member of the concert committee that brought in Lewis Black and sold out the Junker Center.
During her years at Behrend, Soltis was hired by the Office of Student Affairs for a work-study, which allowed her to spend a lot of time in the Reed Union Building and experience a multitude of the clubs Behrend has to offer.
“I got to meet a lot of great people here who encouraged me to go out and get involved in different things,” said Soltis. “My leadership experiences at Behrend began to shape who I would be as a fully functioning college graduate.”
After graduating from Behrend in 2007, Soltis pursued a master’s in higher education and eventually achieved a career as an academic advisor in the School of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky.
“My English degree laid a tremendously valuable foundation for grad school. I learned very good critical thinking and writing skills that proved very useful,” said Soltis. “I always saw myself being a Ken Miller or a Kris Torok but since I've been on the academic side, I can't see myself doing anything else.”
Working for the Office of Student Affairs while at Behrend also proved exceptionally beneficial for Soltis and even helped shape the direction of her career. “After working with Kris Torok, Ken Miller, and Chris Fox, I really thought I would end up following in their shoes and working on the student affairs side of higher education. They inspired me to want to make a difference in students' lives the way they did for me.”
Soltis encourages students to pursue their goals and never to lose sight of their ultimate vision for their lives. She constantly references advice that Kris Torok, the current director of the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement (SLI), taught her during her time at Behrend. “It's important not to get too caught up in small, insignificant details that you lose sight of your bigger goals. I always think of this when I start nit-picking something that carries little or no weight in the grand scheme of things,” said Soltis.
Looking forward, Soltis aspires to make life for her family as meaningful and enjoyable as possible. She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and son but is open to new experiences and is willing to explore different career paths and opportunities should life lead her in new directions.
Without her time spent at Behrend, however, Soltis would never have been as successful as she is today and wouldn’t have met her husband either. “I made some of my very best friends … and those friends got me through some of my darkest days. Because of the people I met along the way (other students, staff, and faculty), my college experience was truly enriched,” said Soltis.