Audra Hixson finds that the Happy Valley community contributes to its quality of life
Written by Kristin Cox
“I think that everyone benefits from a caring community,” says
Audra Hixson. “Being active in the community also creates social
connections and lasting relationships.” And, she definitely knows
about being active in our community.
Although originally from western Pennsylvania and living for
a time in Tucson, Arizona, Audra has made Happy Valley her home
during the last 16 years. She takes her role in the community
seriously, wanting to help make State College a better place through
her own connections, hard work, and volunteerism.
There are so many great places to be active outdoors and it’s possible to meet some amazing people through organized events and clubs.
As assistant director of the Penn State Center for Women
Students, Audra supports and advocates for Penn State students,
both women and men, who are in crises related to sexual violence,
relationship violence, and stalking situations. Previously, Audra
assisted survivors through the Centre County Women’s Resource
Center. She also donates her time to Centre County violence prevention
boards. Having university and county resources like those
provided by Audra is invaluable for helping victims maintain their
safety and feel supported throughout their recovery processes.
And, if that isn’t enough, Audra currently is working on her second master’s degree. She is studying mental health counseling, specialization in trauma‑related counseling. After achieving this degree, she will be able to work in private practice.
The reason Audra stays in this area is because of the good
quality of life she enjoys here. “I enjoy the easy access to a number
of natural and outdoor areas, along with the cultural events that
the university draws,” she says. “Having lived in several urban
areas, I appreciate the open space that surrounds State College.”
She participates in trail running events, such as the Rothrock
Challenge, and many road running events. The local state parks and
forests provide amazing opportunities for her love of biking and
hiking, as well.
When it comes to volunteerism, you will find her hanging
out with the local animals. “I have worked in animal shelters as a
volunteer, but I currently like to support the work of the Hundred
Cat Foundation, which does valuable service related to the care
of stray and feral cats.” Audra’s natural ability with animals is well‑known among her friends—she’s the person they all call when they have a sick pet or when find a stray that needs to get to a shelter.
People like Audra are what make State College a wonderful
place to live and work. She devotes herself to improving her
community while taking time to enjoy it, too. She sums it up best
herself, “There are so many great places to be active outdoors
and it’s possible to meet some amazing people through organized
events and clubs. Along with these places, there is a variety of
musical and theater events that are easily accessible downtown or
at the university.”
Having lived in several urban areas, I appreciate the open space that surrounds State College.
For the future of State College, Audra hopes that it will “grow in
socially and environmentally conscious ways. We have an increasingly
diverse community and, through conscious effort, I think we
can strengthen a sense of community where everyone can feel
welcome.” Luckily, Happy Valley has many residents like Audra who
are willing to devote their time and energy to making that happen.