“Being a social worker, to me, is more than a career. As Jesus served others during his time here on Earth, I too want to live as my Savior did and serve others in any position or job I am blessed to hold,” said Hillary Hubbell ’12.
From a young age, Hubbell’s natural inclination to serve others was nurtured by the selfless examples of her grandmother and mother in their church communities, coupled with the strong work ethic instilled by her father. After a transformative sociology class at Grove City High School, she recognized her calling in social work. Her decision to attend Gannon University was solidified during a meeting with Dr. Sara Lichtenwalter, where the vibrant sense of community and the possibilities offered by Gannon's campus and social work program called to her.
“That conversation was a turning point for me,” Hubbell said. “I left not only certain about my choice of university and major but also filled with excitement and optimism for the future.”
During her time at Gannon, Hubbell actively participated in the Social Work Club’s Thanksgiving Dinner and fundraising events, providing her with early opportunities to apply her skills in a supported environment. Engaging with Erie’s community events and embracing its unique charm further enriched her educational experience.
“I relished numerous sporting and community events, as well as many beautiful sunsets, all of which contributed to making Erie a distinctive and delightful place to reside,” she recalled.
Hubbell's commitment to social work has culminated in her current role as a Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist at Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s Central Office in Harrisburg, where she provides technical support to OVR offices statewide. Her responsibilities include spearheading initiatives such as Early Reach programming and supporting students engaged with the Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services. Previously, as the Early Reach Coordinator for OVR’s Erie District Office, Hubbell organized and oversaw pre-employment transition services for students with disabilities across seven counties.
In addition to her role at OVR, Hubbell serves as a co-grant director for Pennsylvania’s Disability Innovation Fund’s Pathways to Partnership Model Demonstration Grant, focusing on improving school-to-work transition outcomes for students with disabilities.
In the nearly ten years Hubbell has spent working at OVR, the company’s mission to assist Pennsylvanians with disabilities to secure and maintain employment and independence has been the driving force behind her continued passion and dedication.
“Throughout my career as a social worker, I've utilized my abilities in forging relationships, engaging in meaningful communication, exercising compassion, committing to social justice, tackling problems, and demonstrating persistence in aiding others, which I find profoundly fulfilling.”