Inspiring Graduate: Kacey King, B.S. Human Development & Family Studies

'The faculty, staff and friends I have at Stout believe in me and care about me as a person.'
May 30, 2023

Inspiring Graduate: Kacey King (’23)

Kacey King overcame many personal challenges and life events while earning her B.S. in human development and family studies from UW-Stout.

“There were so many points throughout college that I questioned my ability to overcome these challenges. I often wondered if I could be at the point I am today academically, professionally and personally,” she said.

But on May 6, along with 1,173 fellow graduates, King earned her HDFS degree and will be continuing her education here this fall as she enters the M.S. marriage and family therapy program.

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Inspiring Graduate Kacey King and Chancellor Katherine Frank at commencement / UW-Stout

“This graduate program was my top choice, and I’m beyond excited that I get to stay at this wonderful university and in the Menomonie area too,” King said. “I’m proud of everything I’ve had to overcome in my personal life to succeed and get my degree. It makes me quite emotional to reflect on how far I’ve come and the work I’ve put in to be where I am now.”

“Kacey has worked so hard to get to where she is and the experiences she has had. Her story is definitely a Stout Proud story. She loves being here and is so happy to be continuing with her graduate education here,” said King’s faculty mentor, Amanda Barnett.

How has UW-Stout prepared you to work in your field?

Stout has helped me build on my confidence as a professional, through both my internship experience and the polytechnic aspect of learning. I’ve had the opportunity to apply the information I’ve learned in a safe and supportive environment during my internship and through course activities such as presentations, observations and role-plays.

My internship has helped me grow significantly as a helping professional, and the experience has been so fulfilling and rewarding.

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Kacey King crosses the stage at commencement / UW-Stout

I interned as a case facilitator at the Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute. I conducted intake calls with clients to assess eligibility for WI DVR services, which help individuals gain or maintain employment. My supervisor and trainers at SVRI have been nothing short of wonderful, and I’m eternally thankful for the support they’ve given me along the way.

I also had the opportunity to complete a research project titled “Accessing Mental Health Services Across the Life Course: Barriers and Solutions” with Dr. Amanda Barnett, which I presented at Research in the Rotunda, in Madison.

All these experiences have given me the chance to learn so much in the helping profession and working with people, which will help me as I navigate my graduate program and my career.

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Kacey King and Professor Amanda Barnett at Research in the Rotunda / Kacey King

What stands out about your Stout experience? 

The main thing that stands out is the faculty from my major. The HDFS faculty mean so much to me and each one of them carries a special place in my heart. Their kindness, support, and dedication to their field and their students have helped me grow significantly as a person and as a professional. Just about every faculty member that I’ve worked with on campus had extended so much patience and grace towards me, which has helped me navigate the college experience.

How have your Stout education and experience changed you?

My experience here has changed me significantly, and it’s hard to put it into words. I’ve felt at home here at Stout, which has been so deeply meaningful. I’ve grown to be more confident in myself both personally and professionally. I think about who I was when I first came here, and I feel like a completely different person now – for the better.

The faculty, staff and friends I have at Stout believe in me and care about me as a person. Without the supportive environment I’ve had here, I know I wouldn’t be who I am today.

How did you overcome the challenges you faced in earning your degree?

First, there was navigating college throughout the pandemic. I felt so disconnected from my professors and peers during this time, which made school difficult in a lot of ways. As someone who’s going into a field working with people, I love being around others and I thrive off social interaction. Not having that during the pandemic was difficult. I made accommodations, such as doing activities and connecting with friends virtually, but it wasn’t easy.


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Kacey King at the Bowman Hall Clock Tower / Kacey King

Also, I’ve really struggled with my mental health throughout college. I’ve also had some personal and family conflicts that have made school extremely difficult at times. I’ve overcome these challenges by going to therapy and using the tools from that to grow. Working on my mental health has by far been the hardest thing I’ve done, though the work has been so worth it.

How did your involvement impact your experience? 

I’ve been a part of the Stout Ambassadors Club throughout my senior year, which has given me the opportunity to connect with UW-Stout alumni and make connections with faculty and students. This club also provided me with volunteer experiences on campus to connect with individuals throughout the UW System.

I have worked at the Instructional Resources Service office since my freshman year and have been a student supervisor there since my sophomore year. Recently, I was nominated for a student leadership award due to my work at IRS, which is an absolute honor to me.

These experiences have added so much value to my time at Stout. They’ve helped grow my leadership skills and overall confidence, helped me connect with people on campus and helped me create meaningful personal and professional relationships that I’ll have for the rest of my life. 

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