UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Like many Penn Staters, Kiley Foley followed in the footsteps of an older sibling (Kerrie Gillmore, 2003, business) who graduated from the University. However, it was Foley's mom who had an even more profound impact on her life as an undergraduate.
Kiley Foley: Connecting the visually impaired with employment resources
"My mom passed away during my junior year," said Foley. "She was an amazing person, but she had struggled with addiction and mental health challenges for years. She and I were extremely close, and I wish I'd have known then what I know now."
Foley originally enrolled at Penn State to study secondary education (history) and special education. After her mom died, Foley wanted to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to work in a therapeutic environment, so she changed her major to rehabilitation and human services.
During her senior year, Foley completed an internship at Stormbreak, a residential program administered by the Centre County Youth Service Bureau. The State College-based home provides girls ages 12 to 19 with a nurturing environment to help them work toward a permanent living situation.
Foley graduated with her bachelor's degree in 2016 and continued to work part time at Stormbreak. Seeing firsthand the difference she was making in the girls' lives, Foley went back to Penn State for her master of education in clinical mental health and rehabilitation counseling.
While finishing her graduate classes, Foley completed an internship at the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services in Altoona. She accepted a full-time position as a vocational rehabilitation counselor when she graduated in August 2018.
"My overall goal is to help the bureau's clients, who are blind or visually impaired, maintain or gain employment," said Foley. "I provide counseling and connect them to services and resources in their community."
Not a day goes by that Foley doesn't think about her mom.
"She is an inspiration, and she's the reason I do what I do," said Foley.
A certified rehabilitation counselor, Foley currently is taking the steps to get her licensed professional counselor credential, so she can work part time with individuals who have drug and alcohol addictions.
She resides in State College.