Students in the College of the Liberal Arts are Change Makers. They recognize problems, create solutions, and utilize their liberal arts education and experiences to make it happen. Our students are entrepreneurs, campus leaders, activists, and more.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kylie Kuhns, a senior studying labor and employment relations, has dedicated her life to serving others through THON, Kelsey’s Dream, and even in the White House.
“Throughout my time at Penn State, I have used service as the backbone to many of the things I have done,” said Kuhns. “Founding Kelsey’s Dream, serving as a THON captain, and even interning for the first lady of the United States have exposed me to a variety of things to better understand the world around me.”
Kuhns believes that becoming a Nittany Lion has been one of her greatest accomplishments. Through the continual opportunities that Penn State has provided to her, she has found people to change her perspective on life and push her to become a better person every day.
“I am forever grateful to Penn State for the lifelong friends and lessons that I will walk away with at the end of my time,” Kuhns said.
Being a Nittany Lion has enabled Kuhns to pursue her passion of service. At just 11 years old, Kuhns founded a nonprofit called Kelsey’s Dream in memory of her older sister, who passed away from cancer when they were children. With the mission to assist children with cancer, Kuhns wishes to make life a little brighter for children with the disease and children in need through community involvement.
Through Kelsey’s Dream, Kuhns has commissioned multiple projects that have brought smiles to children that are fighting cancer.
“Our largest project is Hopper the Cancer Crusher,” Kuhns said. “This is a play therapy toy that we provide to children all over the country after their diagnosis. Actually, Hopper can be found in hospitals in 45 different states, and to date Kelsey’s Dream has provided over 30,000 play therapy toys to children with cancer.”
In addition to Hopper the Cancer Crusher, the nonprofit also has created programs to bring comfort to patients and their families.
“Our blanket program has ensured campers attending a cancer camp are warm during the night, and our snack pack program has made sure children do not go hungry during treatment,” Kuhns said.
Most of all, Kuhns believes that through founding this organization, she has learned how to be an effective leader in her community, realizing the importance of volunteering and helping others.
“While navigating the ups, downs and learning experiences along the way, I learned a lot about myself and have met some pretty incredible people,” Kuhns said. “It is always rewarding to hear positive feedback from a family that may have just received Hopper or benefited from one of our programs. It is a nice reminder of why I do what I do.”
Service has become so ingrained into Kuhns’ personality that when she arrived at Penn State she knew getting involved with THON would be a perfect pair with her experience in founding Kelsey’s Dream. As a third-year THON captain, Kuhns has stayed busy and even had the opportunity to dance for the cause during her junior year.
Kylie Kuhns danced in THON 2018 with “For Kelsey” on the back of her shirt in memory of her older sister, who passed away from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. IMAGE: PHOTO PROVIDED BY KYLIE KUHNS
“During my sophomore year I served as a communications captain, my junior year I was an alumni engagement captain and I also danced independently, and this past THON I served as an entertainment captain,” Kuhns states. “All of these experiences have fulfilled my desire to give back and serve those dealing with the negative repercussions of cancer.”
Service did not end at Kelsey’s Dream or THON for Kuhns. She realized another ambition to serve her country this past summer while interning within the Office of the First Lady of the United States. Kuhns was one of just a few who actually got to sit in the White House every day.
“It was truly an honor to serve in my position and be a part of something that is historically and traditionally important in this country,” she said. “During my time as an intern for the first lady, I was able to do research for her Be Best campaign that focuses on the well-being of children, assist with historical events that had some high-profile attendees, and work with media inquiries regarding the first lady.”
Kylie Kuhns overlooks the White House, where she interned during the summer of 2018 in the Office of the First Lady of the United States. IMAGE: PHOTO PROVIDED BY KYLIE KUHNS
In fact, Kuhns felt a part of the East Wing family at the White House. Through this experience, she learned two very important life lessons.
“You always have to be nice, no matter who the person is, and that it is important to keep a positive attitude in working for those who need you, even if you never get credit for the great work that you are doing,” she said.
Kuhns’ desire to serve others and achieve a greater purpose through her work has been uplifted by her educational experiences in the College of the Liberal Arts. From meetings with her adviser, to meetings with faculty, to even attending various professional development events, Kuhns has decided that a life of service is possible, even after Penn State.
“I have experienced much in my four years at Penn State,” Kuhns admits. “But, the most important feat that I have learned as a student and as a person is to never underestimate what acts of kindness, service and a smile can do for somebody else.”
Learn about all of the passionate and innovative Liberal Arts students by visiting https://la.psu.edu/current-students/undergraduate-students/experiences/meet-the-change-makers.