LEAP Student Highlight – Kristine Bender



LEAP students often come from different backgrounds. But what they usually have in common is a drive to advance their careers by blending passion with expertise. Meet online student Kristine Bender, lover of history, trained convention event planner. Kristine lives in Bellefonte, PA, a cute little town 20 minutes outside of State College, PA, home of the behemoth Penn State University. She recently moved there with her fiancé who is attending Penn State to receive his MBA, while she attends LEAP online. Like all LEAP students, Kristine is a go-getter, working several part-time jobs while in the program, including running her own small clothes sewing business.

I had the chance to speak with Kristine and learn more about her and what she hopes to gain from LEAP. Her love for history crept out several times throughout our conversation. When talking about adjusting to Bellefonte, she explained the history of the town, and how Gregg Curtin — Bellefonte resident and past Governor of Pennsylvania — led in bringing the Union to Pennsylvania during the Civil War. When talking about her undergraduate degree (in PR and Communications with a minor in History from Longwood University in Virginia), she explained that the school used to be a Normal School and turned co-ed in the 1960s.

Prior to moving to Bellefonte, Kristine lived in Washington DC for eight years and Philadelphia for one, where she worked in convention event planning for the majority of that time. If you aren’t familiar, convention events are some of the largest events you can attend, with multi-day programming, tons of speakers to coordinate, and even more attendees to satisfy! If you can plan a convention-sized event, you can pretty much plan anything. But, being good at something doesn’t mean you’re necessarily passionate about it. While Kristine has a wealth of experience in major event planning, she’s attending the LEAP program with the hopes of marrying her love of history with her expertise in events. When talking through this idea, she recalled working seasonally for the Philadelphia Flower Show and enjoying how the event blended cultural content with traditional event planning —  this is the direction she’d like to pivot towards. And LEAP can help with that! LEAP allows flexibility when working towards a degree in arts leadership. Students customize their learning with electives and two hands-on internships to ensure that they obtain their dream job.

Welcome to the LEAP family, Kristine!