Alumna Spotlight | Stephny Lietuvnikas
Stephny Lietuvnikas earned an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior in May. She was selected for the 2020 Craig D. Lebo M.A. '84 Outstanding Student Award in Human Behavior.
Stephy Lietuvnikas, Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior, M.A.'20
- Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior (M.A.)
- Psychology & Counseling
"The insight that I have gained in human behavior by completing courses in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior program has helped me to better counsel the students that I work with and to be a better supervisor to my employees."
Please tell us about your background. Include any general background that you would like to share, as well as your educational and career background.
I grew up in rural central West Virginia. I was Valedictorian of my class at Roane County High School, but I really didn't know what I wanted to do for a future career. I was a hair's breadth from signing the paperwork to join the army when I received notice that I had received a full-scholarship to attend Shepherd University.
I was originally a biology major and wanted to be pre-med, but a dissecting project my freshman year convinced me that being a doctor wasn't for me! I also considered Elementary Education, but found I didn't have enough patience for teaching children. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Shepherd University in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor in Spanish.
I had the intention of continuing my studies in a graduate English program, but after talking with several of my English professors about the academic job market and how difficult it was to secure a tenure track position in the Humanities, I reconsidered.
It just so happened that a full-time Financial Aid Counselor position was posted for the Financial Aid Office at Shepherd with a start date in August. I had been a student worker in that office for four years and felt very strongly that access to education changes lives, so I applied.
I worked at Shepherd for three years before accepting a position at Hagerstown Community College, where I have served for over sixteen years as the Student Financial Aid Manager.
Why did you choose Hood College's Graduate School?
I chose the Hood College Graduate School because I wanted to physically attend classes on-campus. I had tried an on-line MBA program at another graduate school and felt I was not getting the experience that I wanted.
During my research in pursuit of an alternative program, I found the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior program at Hood. It was the perfect fit for someone like me who was seeking the career enhancement that a graduate degree can provide while maintaining a full-time career and caring for a family. Fortunately, I was able to transfer some of my previous graduate school credits.
I truly loved completing the ISHB program at Hood. The experience of attending in-person classes and interacting with other graduate students and professors is invaluable. The faculty and staff provide a wonderful and supportive learning environment.
I also loved the interdisciplinary aspect of the program and being able to take a broad range of classes because I have always valued the idea of the Renaissance-person who has a wide range of talents and knowledge in different fields.
How has your Hood College graduate degree helped further your career and/or your life?
I believe in the power of higher education to change students’ lives for the better and to give them the perspective necessary to grow into the types of involved leaders that change the world. I am passionate about helping students make their dreams into reality and allowing them to make significant contributions to society.
The insight that I have gained in human behavior by completing courses in the ISHB program has helped me to better counsel the students that I work with and to be a better supervisor to my employees. I use the knowledge that I gained from my coursework every day in my work and personal interactions.
I consistently recommend Hood College as a transfer option to the HCC students I work with because of the wonderful experience I have had with the Hood College Graduate School.
Now that I have a Master's degree, I have the opportunity to advance in my field and apply for Director-level positions in Financial Aid.
What did you enjoy about Hood College? Do you have a favorite memory?
My favorite Hood memory is how excited, happy, and hopeful I felt walking on to campus for my first graduate class in August of 2016.
Hood’s campus is gorgeous, and I remember taking a selfie with the clock near Whitaker Campus Center to post on social media. Working at a community college, I feel that it is important to model to other women that it is never too late to go back to school and finish your degree, even if you have to wait until your kids are older.
My daughter and I both were 2020 grads. She graduated from eighth grade at St. Mary Catholic School in June and will be attending Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in the fall. I am hoping that she will apply to Hood as an undergraduate in 2024.
You were selected for the 2020 Craig D. Lebo M.A. '84 Outstanding Student Award for Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior. What impact did this have on you?
I was so surprised and honored to be selected for the The Craig D. Lebo M.A. '84 Outstanding Student Award for Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior for 2020.
I finished my degree at Hood by taking one class per semester, and it took four years. In that time, I met a lot of different students in my classes.
They were all wonderfully bright and insightful, and being honored for my hard work among so many other outstanding students makes me feel incredibly proud.
Is there any other information or fun facts you would like to add?
A theme that consistently emerged throughout my Psychology and Thanatology coursework was that mindfulness, meditation, and moderate physical exercise can help people cope with stress and lead to mental and physical well-being.
Now that I have finished my Master's degree, I want to apply to a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training certification program. I would love to teach Yoga classes on a volunteer basis at my church and at hospice for people who are experiencing grief and loss.