Once a student at Fayette campus, now a teacher

Well known around Penn State Fayette, Bethany Novotny joins faculty at East Tennessee State University

LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Bethany Novotny’s 10-year journey as a college student has come to an end, but the alumna of Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus has, once again, found herself at a university this fall — only this time as a faculty member. She aims to challenge and inspire her students in a full-time, tenure-track position at East Tennessee State University.

While at Penn State Fayette, the Brier Hill native and graduate of Geibel Catholic High School earned a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies, and then went on to attend Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where she earned a master of science in education in community counseling and a doctorate in counselor education and supervision.

People around the Fayette campus especially remember Novotny’s athleticism. The two-sport athlete (softball and basketball) was recognized six times as an academic All-American. Her primary position in softball was as a catcher, but she played wherever needed, earning two MVP awards.

After graduating from Penn State Fayette, Novotny joined the Lady Roaring Lions’ softball staff as an assistant coach for the 2011 season. The following year, former coach Tracy Hawkins stepped down and Novotny was promoted to the position of head coach, which she held from 2012 to 2015.

For Novotny, coaching wasn’t about wins and losses. “It was about making an impact in the lives of these student athletes,” she said, “pushing them to reach their full potential — both on the field and in the classroom.”

Nowadays, Novotny does her pushing in the classroom. At East Tennessee State, she is teaching primarily in the Undergraduate Human Services program, which, she said, is very similar to the Human Development and Family Studies program at the Fayette campus.

Novotny hopes her new place of employment will be comparable in other, less tangible, ways. “What I have always loved about Penn State Fayette is that it feels like family,” she said. “To this day, I can return to Fayette and see familiar faces in the hallways, and people will always ask how I am doing personally and professionally.”

“At some larger schools,” Novotny continued, “it feels very impersonal. I have always appreciated that Penn State Fayette felt like a place where I could ask anyone for assistance and they would be more than willing to help me.”

Like countless others who got their start at the Fayette campus, Novotny credits key individuals who recognized her potential and believed in her: “They challenged me to think outside the box and shoot for the stars.”

Novotny’s personal educational experience has shaped her teaching philosophy. “When I talk to students about my journey,” she said, “I always say that I didn't know I was a good student until I got to college. I was an average student in high school and didn't really know what I wanted to do when I grew up — but Penn State Fayette and especially the faculty members in the HDFS program helped me find my way.”