First-gen PSU Abington student graduates Magna Cum Laude… a year early with 3 side jobs

Jessica Luna-Tlacopilco, a first-generation Penn State Abington student, will graduate this week in impression fashion.

Jessica’s diploma comes a full year early, includes a 3.7 GPA, and was financed through three jobs in South Philadelphia.

Her degree is in rehabilitation and human services (RHS) with a minor in psychology and a chemical dependency and counseling certificate. Jessica wanted a career where she could help people and work with children, and she’s the first person to complete the chemical dependency and counseling certificate since it came under Abington’s management earlier this year.

“I could help people with this degree, and that’s all that mattered to me,” she said.

“As a first-generation student, this was all new to me so I figured I would take six classes at a time so I could finish sooner. My schedule was packed with classes and work, but I managed it. I worked at my uncle’s pizzeria and as a peer counselor in Counseling and Psychological Services on campus, and I got hired by my internship,” she said. 

She completed her internship at the Center City Jewish Preschool, which hired her full-time after she finished her coursework in August. 

“A lot of kids have special needs so it’s the perfect job for me since I want to become an occupational therapist,” she said. 

“With the RHS degree, I can eventually become an occupational therapist. I remember taking the first class about people with disabilities and ways to help them, and I fell in love with it. I could help people with this degree, and that’s all that mattered to me,” she said. 

“RHS is an amazing major full of opportunities. If you know you want to help people, this major is for you. Reach out to professors because you never know what they can offer. It is a great opportunity for networking,” she said. “I wanted to know more about substance use disorder and how to help, what are its causes, and how do people end up in this situation. I took the first course and loved it, especially the case studies.”

For more coverage on Jessica’s degree and plans for the future, you can read PSU News’ article here.

Photo courtesy of PSU News.