Juanita Baxter, Class of 2020
Manager for WellSpan Community Health Central Region, York County
“The very first day I started my classes at Penn State York, I walked by the Nittany Lion and felt this great sense of pride. I remember thinking to myself that, at the age of 39, I was finally a college student.”
Juanita Baxter’s journey to receiving a post-secondary education was different than most, and was not always an easy one.
“Working full time, going to school part-time, and being a mom was hard,” Baxter said. “I didn’t have much time to participate in things.”
Yet she persisted. While raising the youngest of her five children, working full-time, and attending college simultaneously, Baxter graduated in 2020 with her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies.
“For a long time, I did not know when I would finish college,” Baxter said. “I just decided to focus on the classes each semester and keep plugging away. Next thing I knew, I only needed a few credits to graduate!”
For Baxter, Penn State York’s locality and class schedules helped balance her work schedule and raise her youngest daughter, who was still at home.
“Earning a degree so close to home allowed me to tap into my village to help me with my youngest daughter, who was not old enough to stay home by herself yet,” she said. “Penn State York also allowed me to attend classes that were only offered during the day because it was so close to my job, so I could easily make up any time I used away from the office.”
Despite her setbacks and struggles, Penn State York gave her a second chance to acquire the education she always wanted.
“Having a Penn State campus in York allowed me to attend a well-known institution right in my hometown,” Baxter said. “I am now a proud alumna!”
Shortly after graduating in 2020, Baxter transitioned into her current manager position for WellSpan Community Health Central Region in York County, and is preparing to get married in October 2023. She has since made efforts to give back to the community. Baxter served on the board of directors for the York County Literacy Council and The Program: It's About Change, assisted in the development of a gun violence reduction project with York City Group Violence Intervention (GVI), and is a longtime volunteer with United Way of York County.
“My advice to anyone about succeeding is, if it is something they really want to do, just get started and take one thing, one class, one project, one test at a time,” Baxter reflects. “It was definitely worth it for me. I learned so much that I never would have if I didn’t go to Penn State York.”