Shelbi Blackiston will tell you that finding your niche in today’s demanding work world sometimes requires taking a break in a new environment, but then Blackiston has always made her own breaks.
Through Harford Community College’s 2+2 program with Towson University, Blackiston completed her associate’s degree, transferred all her credits, and immediately began pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Towson University in Northeastern Maryland. “It was so appealing to me to attend classes close to home and still be part of the Towson University family,” says Blackiston.
Blackiston’s participation in the Disney College Program, where she worked full time at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, gave her a needed break from her routine and exposed her to a new environment. “It was the first time I lived out of state, and it was the first time I could take a break from education and focus on what I really wanted to do,” explains Blackiston. Although her associate degree was in chemistry, she returned home choosing to channel her love of psychology into a business degree focusing on leadership and management.
Associate Professor Mariana Lebrón from TU’s Department of Management was a strong and positive influence during Blackiston’s last semester. “She provided feedback on even the smallest assignment, and she helped me find the strength to know I can be an effective leader,” relates Blackiston, who is now following in the footsteps of her mother, a human resource professional at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Edgewood, Maryland, for more than 27 years. “My mother used her human resources skills to raise our family,” recalls Blackiston. “I heard HR stories all the time.”
As part of APG’s Pathways internship program, Blackiston is working as a program analyst for the U.S. Army to monitor processes and procedures among military agencies using the services of private contractors. She will have a chance to sample other positions in the operational management chain before choosing her career path at APG.