“I had no idea that I was a tech geek until seven years ago when I started this job!”

How does a full-time musician fall into a techy job at Penn State University? Kate Twoey says that due in part to the financial crisis of 2008, she took a day job to supplement her music career and she hasn’t looked back since.

Kate’s Work

For the past seven years, in addition to continuing her music career, Kate has worked as an Instructional Production Specialist for Penn State’s World Campus. The World Campus is PSU’s online learning platform that offers students all around the world the opportunity to earn certificates, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees from Penn State entirely online.

“I had no idea that I was a tech geek until seven years ago when I started this job,” says Kate.

Her job is to onboard new Learning Design staff and train them on new and changing processes and systems. Penn State is in the midst of transitioning to a new Learning Management System, so this has been a particularly busy time for her.

She says that she cried every day after work for the first two weeks when she started her job. She hopes to save other new hires from feeling that way.

“I want our new staff to know that I completely understand how hard it can be to start a new job,” she says, “and help them find that balance between learning so much your brain hurts and laughing so hard your face hurts!”

Kate’s passion for her work is evident when you talk to her. She’s excited to be the first person to work with new staff and her hope is that when people ask them “How’s your new job?”, they can say that it’s really fun.

Part of her role also includes working on the Human Resource and Employment Relations courses for the various certificate, associate, Bachelor, and Master degree programs. Hundreds of courses are available and it takes months to prepare them for launch.

“When we are opening the courses at the beginning of a new semester, I feel like ‘Look! Look what we just did! We made all of these courses for students all over the world. The courses are ready for you!’” says Kate.

The Perks of Working at Innovation Park

Kate takes full advantage of the many perks available at Innovation Park. She visits the food trucks and the farmer’s market in the summer. She likes that she can pop over to the Penn Stater for conferences, hop on the bus to campus, or take a stroll on the walking paths. Being a musician, she also enjoys working in close proximity to a radio station.

“Personally, I love that our office is in the same building as WPSU!” she says. “There is no end to the exciting things happening in the WPSU studio. We got to meet Mr. McFeely!”

Kate regularly attends events at the park including the Innovation Park picnic that is held every summer outside at the Penn Stater. She partakes in coolBLUE field trips including the one to Pegula Ice Arena and the Palmer Art Museum.

About Her Band, Pure Cane Sugar

Kate and her band, Pure Cane Sugar, are well-known around town. It’s an Americana band, and while many of their songs are originals, they sometimes put their own spin on popular songs. They have put out two albums and are currently in the studio working on more tunes.

Pure Cane Sugar plays parties and events and has a standing Saturday night gig at Zeno’s. Kate’s favorite gig by far though is playing at Arts Fest.

“When I was about 10-years-old I’d watch the Arts Fest musicians play and fantasize about doing that someday,” she recalls. “Playing Arts Fest for me is a reminder every year that dreams can actually come true.”

She confesses that she’s a little obsessed with Arts Fest and it’s one of the reasons she moved to the area. Her entire house is full of Arts Fest posters from over the years and she counts down the days each year.

Occasionally, when Kate is at work at Innovation Park someone will recognize her from a gig. And sometimes when she’s playing with Pure Cane Sugar, someone will recognize her from the park.

“It used to weird me out when those worlds collided, but now it's great,” she says. “It’s always fun to see faces from work at gigs as well!” 

Originally from Mechanicsburg, Kate has been living in State College since 1994 with her husband, Gary, and their teenage son, Jakob. Kate grew up in a musical family and studied voice performance. You can follow Pure Cane Sugar on Facebook at www.facebook.com/purecanesugar.