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What is Health and Human Development?

Diverse fields of study that share one
common goal: enriching the lives of others.

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Angelique Murillo



Angelique Murillo developed her interest in working with children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as a teenager after professionals diagnosed her relative with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of ASD.

“I was interested in learning about how to make things easier for him,” she said.

In high school, Murillo interned at a special needs school in New Jersey, working as a teacher’s aide and shadowing several professionals, including a speech-language pathologist and occupational therapist.

Her interest led her to Penn State where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is now a graduate student researching parental concerns of children with ASD.

More than 4,500 Penn State students are enrolled in the College of Health and Human Development (HHD) studying a wide array of fields, each committed to the concept of improving the quality of life for others. Murillo, who found a home in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD), is one of those HHD students, and this is her story.



Murillo, an undergraduate Schreyer Scholar and Waller Mildred S. Bunton and Calvin H. Waller Undergraduate Fellow, most recently, gained speech-language pathology experience at UPMC-Altoona Regional Hospital through a graduate externship.

“A lot of people don’t realize how important it is to be able to communicate and how devastating it can be when you lose that ability,” Murillo said. “For example, when I’m working with a patient who had a stroke and I point to a table but they are unable to tell me that it’s a table, I see the frustration on their face. Being able to help patients so that eventually they are able to tell you it’s a table…that makes you feel like you’ve helped them.”

The goal of the off-campus externship for CSD graduate students is to immerse them in daily routines that allow them the opportunity to work with highly skilled professionals in the field. Externship sites are screened carefully to allow students the optimal clinical experience in a non-university setting.

“This externship has definitely allowed us to become more comfortable with interacting with patients and deciding what the next steps should be for them,” Murillo said. “Personally, this experience has completely changed my career plans. Prior to starting, I was set on working within a school setting. I now plan to seek out employment in a hospital setting.”

In addition to CSD, there are a variety of areas for students to study within HHD through the Departments of Biobehavioral Health, Health Policy and Administration, Human Development and Family Studies, Kinesiology, Nutritional Sciences, Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, and the School of Hospitality Management. Learn more about HHD.