Four years back, I was a freshman at Penn State majoring in public relations and really just trying to make it through the first year of my college career. I had my mind set on graduating in four years and moving to New York City to work in one of the top PR agencies. Fast forward to today when I am two weeks away from graduating, and that statement above is the last thing I want to do. It is funny how four years at Penn State can really help shape a person.
I met Linda Feltman my freshmen year when I got involved in Happy Valley Communications (HVC). HVC is a completely student-run public relations firm that works with real clients and produces real results. Linda is the faculty advisor, and through HVC, I was able to work with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). I can still remember my first GEW event, when PSU alumni and OrderUp founder, Justin Goldman, came in to talk about how he started a business when he was only a sophomore at Penn State. I remember thinking to myself that could be me.
Being involved in GEW has opened many new doors for me throughout my college career. It helped me see that just because I love the field of communications and public relations does not mean that my path is set in stone. When I was in my junior year, my advisor told me that I was going to graduate early because I had completed all of my credits for my public relations major and business minor. I knew that I had to do something because I was not ready to graduate; I still had so much I wanted to accomplish. I remembered that during GEW, I had also learned about the entrepreneurship and innovation (ENTI) minor. After looking into it further, the minor sounded like a great fit for me, and I was able to start the ENTI minor my second semester of my junior year and finish it by May 2017 graduation.
I fell in love with the ENTI minor and it helped me realize that a traditional route was not the one for me. I loved these classes because they forced me to think differently; everything is not black and white.
For GEW 2016, I was one of four students who had attended the most events during the week and won a meeting with President Barron. With running an entire university that has over 40,000 students, I am surprised that Dr. Barron has time to breathe, let alone meet with students. We met in his office and talked about entrepreneurship at Penn State, how he understands how important that it is to offer a different course for students. I think that it is so important to have a President understand that investing in students in this manner is so important. You can tell that Dr. Barron is a man who truly wants to see his students succeed in their own ways, and he is there to learn what the University needs to do in order to make that happen.
I have to be honest in saying that I was very nervous to meet with President Barron. I thought that he was a busy man who would not have time to listen to one student, but I was wrong. During our meeting, he asked me questions and was genuinely interested in hearing my experiences at Penn State and how entrepreneurship has affected me.
Penn State has given me so many opportunities throughout my college career, but I can say that GEW shaped me into the person that I am today, by opening my eyes to the opportunities around me. Coming in as a freshmen PR major just trying to make it through the next four years, I could not even dream where I would be four years later — involved in GEW, helping out entrepreneurs in Happy Valley LaunchBox through HVC, being a teaching assistant for the ENTI minor, and with hopes of starting my own business. So, thank you Penn State, and thank you GEW, because you truly have an effect on students’ lives.