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University of Pikeville
Office of Career & Professional Development
Darwin V. Kysor
Learn More about Darwin
Campus Employment Specialist
Learn more about Sonia
The University of Pikeville’s Professional Exploration and Knowledge (PEAK) Career and Leadership Pathway is a comprehensive four-year pathway program designed to allow students to explore career options and gain leadership experience throughout their time on campus, culminating in an increase in job and leadership preparedness at graduation. It allows students to build an individualized plan with expanded opportunities for leadership, professional experience and service throughout every year of student enrollment.
The PEAK Career and Leadership Pathway will empower students to:
• Take personal responsibility in their career development and management by being active participants in the PEAK program.
• Reflect on and articulate their leadership potential.
• Demonstrate an understanding of a professional identity founded in leadership development skills. These program goals will be achieved through a focus on two student learning outcomes.
PEAK will focus on eight Career Readiness Competencies developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
How Students May Participate by enrolling in the subsequent career courses or any number of career readiness curricular and co-curricular experiences:
Career Planning – directed at first-and second-year students. Provides the learner with the opportunity to become more aware of interests, values, skills and personality styles related to the career decision-making process.
21st Century Career Search – directed at upper level students. Provides an overview of career and graduate/professional school search tools and techniques, including:
• Service work with a community organization
• Bears@Work – work study job on or off campus
• Career office workshops and Canvas career readiness modules
• Second-Year Trail Blazers Summer Bridge program mentor
• New Student Orientation or GROWL leader
• Campus leadership roles (e.g. clubs and organizations, intercollegiate athletics, tutoring, resident assistant)
• UPIKE Job and Internship Fair and Etiquette Dinner
• Formal academic research
• Internships, practicums and clinical experiences
Darwin V. Kysor, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Darwin Kysor has over 30 years of experience in higher education and has been a member of the professional staff at the University of Pikeville since 2020, serving as Director of Career & Professional Development. Previously, he was the Director of Career Services and Internships at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, Coordinator of Job Placement & Cooperative Education at Harford Community College in Bel Air, MD and the Cooperative Education Coordinator/Career Counselor at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA.
Darwin graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and M.A. in Counselor Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University where he wrote his dissertation on the career benefits of cooperative education/internship experiences. He has been a National Certified Counselor since 1998 and in 2007 was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S. – Germany International Education Administrators Program.
Professionally, Darwin is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, National Career Development Association, Kentucky Association of College and Employers, Kentucky Career Development Association and the American Counseling Association. He is a Program Reviewer for both NACE and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Darwin’s family includes spouse Patricia, daughters Riley and Summer and sons Roman, Connor and Pierce.
Sonia Smith, M.A
Sonia has more than 10 years’ experience in higher education, providing career guidance to students on their journey as they explore how they want to live and craft a meaningful life. Utilizing reflection, listening, curiosity, questioning, experiential learning, and holistic exploration she has developed opportunities and created and managed programs for students to connect their studies, major, interest, responsibilities, work and what they are curious about doing in the world in order to better design their life. Sonia integrates and utilizes her background and experience in ministry, human resources, work with non-profits, internship and job development, volunteer services, and student employment to engage students, connecting their desire for work with interests in studies and life.
Guided by a professional interest and emphasis on “How Do I Do What I Say I Believe in the World,” Sonia enthusiastically works with students to design a life with purpose and meaning. Sonia has certifications to work with and interpret the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory in addition to grant writing. Her educational background includes psychology, understanding human development and counseling as well as teaching and administration along with curriculum development. She holds a M.A.C.E. from Union Seminary and B.A in Psychology from Meredith College. Professionally she has taught college classes and presented at conferences for organizations including the national conference for the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) “Fostering Student Vocational Discernment through Clearness Committees” (also awarded a grant for this) and Career Development Professionals of Indiana, state conference, on a marketing case study.
At the University of Pikeville, Sonia enjoys helping students find where they are supposed to be as they connect their education with employment. She served as a mentor for the national NASPA Undergraduate Fellow Program (NUFP) and oversees the university’s participation in the “Student of the Year” national award including winning the KY state award two years in a row. For fun, Sonia appreciates cooking, reading, traveling (in person and virtually) domestically and internationally, spending time with friends and family, and keeping up with her nieces, ages 6 and 21.
To contact Sonia: firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-218-5223