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Taking Pride in Your Career: An Adult Learner’s Path to a New Career

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During the long months of the enduring COVID-19 lockdown, Karenna Genzlinger ’23 had plenty of time to think about her future, including making a drastic career move.

Growing up in Huntingdon Valley, she always enjoyed cooking and excelled at math. She earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and began a career for a Washington, D.C. software company that supported government acquisitions. She enjoyed the job and found it intellectually stimulating, but after getting married, Genzlinger began to think about her long-term future. She quit her job and moved back to Pennsylvania with her husband. After nearly two years of career exploration, she realized she was interested in a field that valued sustainability and offered flexible schedules, so she settled on a career in nutrition.

“I realized that I could really find a career fulfilling in which I am focused on helping transform our food system and helping our population, as a whole, move toward eating healthier diets, diets that are healthier for the planet, and diets that rely less on animals and animal by-products, so it just sort of clicked,” she said. “It took a while to open my mind and say, ‘wow, I can make that drastic of a career change.’”

Immaculata’s nutrition program was a perfect fit for Genzlinger as it offered affordable tuition rates and accepted transfer credits that other universities did not. When she reached out to Cecile Adkins, Ed.D., RN, LDN, Immaculata’s didactic program director for nutrition and dietetics, Genzlinger was pleasantly surprised that Adkins reviewed the entire course sequence with her so she would be comfortable with the workload. She soon enrolled in Immaculata nutrition bridge program for students who already have an undergraduate degree in another major. Students in the bridge program complete the required courses for the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) that then makes them eligible to enroll in a master’s degree program and internship.

However, she still had one concern. As an adult learner, she was nervous about taking classes with traditionally aged students. “That worry was completely unfounded,” she acknowledged. “I love how we progressed through the program together. We have each other, we lean on each other, and it helps to have a social circle. Even as an adult student, it’s been really nice to still have that. I love how CAPS students and undergraduate students integrate on campus.”

Genzlinger is nearly finished with the additional classes she needs for the DPD portion of the program and is focusing on starting her master’s program and internship in the fall.

“The bridge program is really geared toward adult students,” she stated. “One class a week, with late afternoon or evening classes, is more conducive to working adults.”

Genzlinger does not regret majoring in math when she was an 18-year-old freshman in college. She admits, “It’s okay to go back and reconsider your career. That has been an important realization for me, and I do wish I had realized that earlier.”

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