Texas Tech University

HDFS Alumna Devotes Career to Counseling, Outreach, and Student Success

Hannah Fields

April 29, 2021


Stephanie Harding says her Human Development and Family Sciences degree led to her interest in counseling and student services

1989 Human Development and Family Studies (now Human Development and Family Sciences) alumna Stephanie Harding says her degree gave her a solid academic foundation when seeking her Master of Education in Counseling Services from the University of North Texas in 1993. 

“I leaned heavily on the knowledge gained in my family studies degree, not only in my graduate studies, but in my work through the years in student services and agency counseling, and in my volunteerism as a mentor and community group leader with non-profit and church organizations,” Harding said.

Harding didn't begin her time at Texas Tech as an HDFS major but as a Journalism major. As she moved forward with her degree she soon realized that she was more interested in discovering why people communicate the way they do rather than communicating the news. This realization led her to the Human Development and Family Studies program within the College of Human Sciences.

“I loved my family studies classes, they gave me insight and understanding I could apply to helping others and allowed me to develop self-awareness and self-efficacy,” Harding said. “Majoring in family studies led to my interest in the field of counseling, in particular the area of student services. It also provided a knowledge base as I navigated difficulties in life and enriched my desire to seek to understand and help others.”

Harding, who works as Lead Counselor in Student Development at the Texas Tech University Career Center (UCC) and is a Texas State Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)provides career counseling and exploration, including assessment interpretations, to students and alumni to assist in their career development. 

“I offer mock interviews; resume, CV, and professional school document critiques; and design and deliver career and personal development presentations and webinars to classes, organizations, and staff meetings,” Harding explained. “I coordinate an etiquette dinner and assist with other UCC events, such as business dining events, job fairs, resume critique workshops, career exploration days, orientations, employer showcases, and special events to encourage student engagement and success.”

Harding also serves as a Raider Ready course instructor, where she assists students in developing their academic success skills as they build relationships and community with their fellow students and learn about campus services.

In the fall of 2020, Harding was awarded the Texas Career Development Association (TCDA) award for Advocacy and Community Service. 

“I've been involved with TCDA for a little over a year, serving on two committees and leading a project that has produced a webpage and handout available to the general public,” Harding said. “This resource provides links to multiple resources, relating to the idea of holistic career development during COVID-19. TCDA presented its first set of awards last fall, and I was honored to receive this particular one.”

When thinking of the impact of her Human Development and Family Studies degree, Harding says she would recommend it to prospective students who want to work in a helping profession, such as teaching, case management, higher education student services, and governmental work. 

She also added that the degree prepared her for her current position in multiple ways.

“My family studies degree provided me with core counseling skills, such as establishing rapport, interpersonal communication, conveying empathy, active listening, and helping others with problem-solving, that allow me to earn trust with the students I serve and provide me with the person-oriented and solution-focused counseling skills I often use within my role,” Harding said.

While the value of her studies was important, Harding said that the relationships she formed as a student stood out to her most during her time at Texas Tech.

“For me, it was the relationships I built with my professors and cohorts while learning about human behavior, motivation, and the impact of family systems on individuals,” Harding said. “Three of my classmates were in my wedding! I value our friendships and am happy that after many years apart we can get together regularly now that my family has moved back to the Hub.”