Paige Levan, 27, always knew she was destined to be Temple Owl.
"I was always drawn to Temple honestly. Ever since high school, it was my first pick — I've always loved how diverse Temple is," said Levan, who is graduating with her degree in Psychology from Temple's College of Liberal Arts. "I love the history, that it was founded to be a school that was affordable for everyone. "I'm a first-generation college student who for a time didn't think I had the financial background to make it through a bachelor's degree, but after putting in the work, here I am."
Levan began her college career at Montgomery County Community College.
"Temple was one of the schools that Montgomery County has a dual admissions program with, which made it a great option and a great way to achieve my dream of going to Temple," she said. "I've worked full-time for most of the time I've been going to school. Ambler was a closer campus to commute to and I fell in love with it. I love the beauty of Temple Ambler, the close-knit community and the broad wealth of resources."
Levan was a Liberal Studies major at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) before transferring to Temple University. Thanks to the dual admissions program between the two schools, Levan said, the transition couldn't have been easier.
"All of my credits transferred with no problem. The advisors at both campuses were very helpful. Walking in that first day at the Temple advising office, they just made everything so smooth," she said. "They gave me a really great overview of everything I had already accomplished at MCCC and where I still needed to go with Temple. I liked that clear-cut path that they created for me. They make the transition very easy and keep you moving forward."
Levan said she decided to pursue a degree in Psychology, because "I always knew I wanted to work with people, children specifically."
"I was kind of all over the place coming out of high school. I was interested in law, I was interested in history; I thought about recreational therapy for a while," she said. "Psychologists work very closely with sociologists, with law professionals, with a variety of professions really. I found that it tied all of my interests together in one great degree."
Temple, Levan said, offers numerous different tracks within psychology to explore.
"Looking at a lot of programs at different schools, they seemed focused on general psychology or clinical psychology. From, the beginning of your degree, Temple provides a lot more flexibility," she said. "You could go into developmental psychology, or maybe the neuroscience track.. It gives you an opportunity to explore what field of psychology you specifically want to go into — what your interests and passions are within the field."
Levan's personal focus is child psychology.
"I feel that if we can work on preventative strategies at a young age, there are a lot of adults that we could save from the effects of trauma," she said. "Often, children from any number of backgrounds tend to try to ignore the trauma and don't seek help. That manifests in many different ways in adulthood. If we can find effective strategies to help them early on, I think that will certainly help later in life."
In order to be in a profession where your primary focus is helping people, "it's important to understand how people think, how people work, what their experiences are and how those experiences have affected who they are as a person," Levan said.
"I think it's very important of have an understanding of other people when you are in a situation where you are essentially determining life and death in some cases. I keep in mind the importance of this field whenever I approach any of my classwork," she said. "You have to stay determined and make sure you keep your end goal in mind. At the end of the day it's worth it. Thinking of that end goal makes it easier to keep pushing hard each day."
As she approached the finish line of her Temple degree, Levan stepped down from a full-time position at Costco Wholesale, where she has worked for eight years, to focus more fully on classwork in her final year.
"I may have dropped some hours at work, but I also added classes, so time management becomes essential — I am pretty neurotic with my planner," she said. "That gives me a good sense of control as I'm able to plan out my week, figuring out what I'm going to tackle each day. I usually leave myself one day so if I don't get everything I need to get done on the other days, I have some spare hours."
Levan said her mother's favorite saying was "'don't eat your whole meatball sub in one bite.'"
"Basically, take it one step at a time, one assignment at a time, one day at a time. As long as you're able to cross something off your to-do list, it does give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue to move forward," she said. "My Temple experience has been wonderful. I've had great advisors at Temple Ambler — initially Kim Cooney and now Sean Daly — that have been with me through most of my time at Temple. I definitely recommend getting involved in as many things as you can while in school. It gives you a good opportunity to network, to get to know other students and professors, and to just have fun sometimes, which every college student needs."
Levan said she is now "ready for one door to close and the next door to open."
"I plan to take a year off while I apply to graduate school. I also want to make sure I know exactly where I want to go and how I want to do it," she said. "I've been looking at a doctoral program that also offers assistantships, so that is definitely a possibility I'm exploring — I think I might be ambitious and go straight for the doctorate. I've also always been very interested in law school and if I did pursue that I'd take the juvenile justice route."
Her advice to other adults interested in completing their degree is to stay determined and "keep pursuing your dreams."
"It might seem a little more difficult sometimes than it might have at 18, but I'm grateful I got to do this later in life. I feel that I'm more passionate about my degree, more focused and more serious about doing my best," she said. "I'm able to manage my time, avoid procrastination and I care a lot about the work I produce for my classes. Stay determined and know that you can achieve what you set out to do — I'm proof of that. You're in competition with yourself, not anyone else — this goal is entirely for you."