Charnice Culmer: Building rapport with clients

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Charnice Culmer is inspired every day by her network of Penn Staters, who make working in fields they are passionate about a priority and are dedicated to positively impacting the lives of others. And Culmer herself is no exception.

Charnice Culmer Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

As a student first introduced to Penn State through the College of Education’s Summer College Opportunity Program in Education (SCOPE) in 2009, Culmer arrived on campus in 2011 and capitalized on a plethora of opportunities that Penn State offers. In addition to singing with Essence of Joy and the United Souls ensembles, she volunteered on the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Planning Committee, participated in the Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) Student Organization, gave tours as a member of Penn State’s Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team (SMART), was a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy, and conducted research under the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program while working part time as a student desk representative at the Business and Auxiliary Services Commons Desks.

Culmer credits her RHS major with giving her the flexibility to be actively involved as a student, and providing a solid foundation for her professional career.

“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after college, but I knew I wanted to work with people,” Culmer said. “The RHS program appealed to me because it was a broad major, could be applied in numerous professional settings, and covered a variety topics, from mental health counseling to case management.”

Culmer graduated in 2015 with a dual bachelor’s degree in RHS and human development and family studies.

She also took advantage of yet another opportunity at Penn State and extended her stay in Happy Valley, while she completed a summer internship with the Division of Development and Alumni Relations (DDAR). In that role, she was involved with special projects for the College of Information Sciences and Technology’s alumni mentoring program and alumni advisory board.

“My DDAR internship gave me an inside perspective that informed me of why the development and alumni relations division is so important to the University,” Culmer said.

After completing her internship, Culmer enrolled in a one-year master of science program specializing in nonprofit leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. Following that experience, she held a few jobs before realizing the right position that aligned with her personal and professional goals.

In 2018, Culmer joined Liberty Community Connections, an agency that provides consumer-directed services for people with disabilities and seniors, and advocates for equality, dignity and access to independent living. As a supports coordinator, she manages a caseload of 60 to 65 consumers. The consumers are her favorite aspect of her day-to-day responsibilities.

“I get to hear their stories, assess their needs, assist them with setting goals, and map solutions to aid them in achieving their goals,” Culmer said. "This takes form in helping them cultivate better relationships with their families and identifying new supports. When my consumers are in tough situations, I really enjoy the challenge of problem-solving and connecting them with the resources needed to overcome their obstacles.

Culmer is a Philadelphia native and enjoys working in her hometown. Her siblings, Carshena (class of 2013, College of the Liberal Arts) and Charran (class of 2019, College of the Liberal Arts), also are Penn State graduates.

Last Updated October 30, 2019