It is common to find students in the classroom who have goals and expectations for their lives after graduation. Their choice of major is based on a desire for a particular job or a passion for a certain field of study. For Karen Schaeffer, however, this was not the case. She says that her calling was “discovered and nourished in the Adult Degree Completion Program classroom.”
When Karen first heard of Geneva College’s Adult Degree Completion Program on the radio, she was a stay-at-home wife with three teenage children, writing a wedding advice column for four Pennsylvania newspapers. For the past 20 years, Karen had been pursuing a bachelor’s degree on and off but now felt that Geneva could give her the opportunity to pursue ministry work. The ADCP offered a way to earn a bachelor’s degree in community ministry, which is exactly what Karen wanted.
Choosing Geneva College’s Adult Degree Completion Program was easy for Karen. It provided convenience by offering class one night a week in 11 locations across western Pennsylvania. In addition, Karen remarks that the 17-month program is set up in a way “that would encourage success, learning, and completion.” Once in the program, she was met with knowledgeable and encouraging instructors who enhanced her Christian perspective. It was the work on her Applied Research Project that Karen says “not only stretched my mind, but also revealed my future calling.”
The Applied Research Project is a project the student develops throughout the 17-month program. Each course will concentrate on one chapter of the project, while the student observes and participates in a specific organization. The objective is to pose a question, and — by literature reviews, data collection and analysis — seek an answer. Karen devoted her Applied Research Project to ways to more effectively minister to the needs of the elderly in her parish. Because of the project, she discovered her interest in the aspects of an aging society.
With her degree in community ministry from Geneva Karen finds herself “helping seniors and their loved ones find resources and communities specific to their need.” Karen believes that the key is to “enjoy the journey and not focus on the destination.” After all, a calling can be found where Karen found hers — in an Adult Degree Completion Program classroom.
- by Abby Cruse
After completing the ADCP program, Karen started Age & Dignity Consulting. LLC, an eldercare consulting business. The goal of her business is to help families find personalized eldercare options for their loved ones. She also assists families in finding appropriate senior housing, homecare and hospice options specific to their needs. In addition, Karen works with churches to facilitate their senior ministry endeavors; such as, the evaluation and implementation of senior programs and collaboration with clergy and pastoral teams to assist specific families. As of December 2010, Karen is enrolled in the Masters of Gerontology program at Kansas State University.
Of Geneva's 96 full-time faculty members, 76% have earned doctorates.