Psychology and social work students had the opportunity to network with professionals in the community during a Dinner with Strangers hosted by Paul and Diane Kradel of Shepherdstown. The students spent the evening with Paul, a psychologist, and Diane, a retired schoolteacher and former social worker, and their daughter-in-law Colleen Kradel, a clinical social worker and therapist.
Psychology majors who attended were Matthew Stevens, Berkeley Springs; Lacey Emry, Winchester, Virginia; and Jennifer Forbes, Purcellville, Virginia. Social work majors who attended the dinner were Kara Herber, Hedgesville; and Osmund Anderson, Inwood.
“What a charming group!” Diane Kradel said “They were all commuting students from the tri-state area who are totally focused on their academic and vocational aspirations. We had fascinating discussions about their lifetime goals and we, the older adults, told them some of our experiences within these fields.”
“They were a charming and seriously goal-directed group of people,” Paul Kradel said about the students. “Having students as guests for dinner was a delightful and engaging experience. It was wonderful to hear about their college experiences and how much they have profited from attending Shepherd.”
The Kradels enjoyed the experience so much that they hope to host another Dinner with Strangers in the future. The students also seemed to enjoy meeting the Kradels and each other.
“I had such a good time and am so grateful I got to know the Kradels and the other attending Shepherd students,” Emry said. “Their involvement in Shepherdstown and interest in our education reminded me that at Shepherd I’m not just a student, but a part of a much broader community that supports my education and wants me to succeed. I am so glad I was able to attend and very honored to have been chosen to represent the Shepherd psychology department.”
“At first, I thought it would be a bit awkward, considering we were all meeting for the first time,” Forbes said. “But by the end of the night we were all talking and joking around the dinner table like we’d known each other for ages. The Kradels were all genuinely interested in my educational experiences and future plans and gave me insight and advice that I will never forget about pursuing psychology as a career. Overall the whole experience made me feel closer to my fellow students and closer to the community of Shepherdstown as a whole.”
“The Dinner with Strangers event was such an enjoyable experience and the Kradels are a gift I will always treasure,” Anderson said. “I am so humble and grateful, and my heart was all smiles upon leaving dinner. The Kradels were definitely interested in my educational experiences and my military experiences as well, after serving 22 plus years in the Army. The Kradel family was interested in my future plans and gave me insight and advice about working at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center as a social worker. The dinner was outstanding, but I must say the dessert (which was gingerbread) was fabulous. That dessert made my day!”
“I enjoyed networking with other psychology and social work students as well as listening to the guidance and personal experiences the Kradels gladly shared with us,” Herber said. “Diane shared a little bit about her story as a social worker, and I was glad to hear about the opportunities that she had in the workforce. She encouraged me to continue to pursue my passions which meant so much to me since Diane has pursued her same passions and has made a lasting impact as a social worker.”