Professor Jennifer Buechel is the Program Director of Psychology and Human Services at Manor College. She believes her challenges through the years help her relate to students.
Professor Jennifer Buechel studied the reactions of students around the room. Some seemed surprised, others felt relieved.
As another professor told the freshmen class how she received a failing grade during her first semester in college, Buechel spoke up from the back of the room. She dropped out of college herself two times.
She recalled how, on one occasion, her mother asked if she had a test the next day in class. Buechel replied that she had a test on the first 500 pages of her textbook, attempting to lie. Her mother saw through it and knew instantly that Buchel dropped out of college.
Looking back, Buchel says she dropped out from a lack of interest. People encouraged her to go, and she tried, but would drop out because she was on her own. She was young, living on her own and didn’t know where she wanted to go in life.
“That was a crossroads of my life right after high school,” Buechel said. “I wasn’t ready. I had my own apartment and I didn’t understand the value of an education.”
When she was 21, the feeling “clicked” and Buechel returned to college. She eventually graduated from Immaculata University with her Bachelors in Psychology and received a Masters Degree in Counseling from Villanova.
“I’m not afraid to tell that story because it makes me who I am,” Buechel said. “A lot of students struggle during their first semester here. It gives me the ability to relate to them because I went through it trying to find myself.”
Buechel’s journey to Manor College is as unique as her college experience. She spent years as a mental health therapist, but always had a desire to teach. She began teaching 8th Grade at a Catholic School in Philadelphia, but didn’t think she could teach at the college level because of her lack of a doctorate.
Buechel saw an advertisement for an opening with Manor College and applied anyway. She believes she got lucky and found a home.
“I wanted to teach college because it was the best way to combine psychology and teaching,” Buechel said.
The challenge is an exciting one. Buechel believes that psychology and education pair so well because, even if you’re not a psychology major, there’s still things to learn that relate to everyday life.
“With teaching, I get a chance to help these students – therapy without the therapy,” Buechel said. “I get to help them be the best people they can be. Sometimes, we don’t realize the positive impact that we can have.”
Outside of her educational background, the next surprising aspect of her personality is her desire to work with her hands.
“I love to do projects in my house,” Buchel said. “It’s incredibly satisfying as you do it.”
The love began when she first bought a house in Northeast Philadelphia. She liked the challenge of putting together her Ikea furniture. She was taking care of her son, but wanted a new challenge.
“There’s only so many times you can play Candyland before you want to find something more creative,” she said.
The next step was tiling her kitchen backsplash. After that, each project came quickly. She put together kitchen cabinets, refurbished her hardwood floors and knocked down a wall. Her pride was remodeling a bathroom, tiling and all.
“It’s a bit addicting,” Buechel said. “It feels good when you finish a project, but then I need another.”
Buechel believes everything happens for a reason. She landed at Manor College unsure of her ability to be hired. Other challenges, like her early years of education struggles or battling tough aspects of a home improvement project, happen for a reason.
“I know it doesn’t always seem like it at that point, but these events make you who you are,” Buechel said. “A lot of people struggle in their lives. I believe my struggles allow me to empathize with others and help get them where they want to go.”