Briona Bargerstock

When I visited and walked around the campus, I got an overwhelming feeling that this is where I belonged.

Major: Psychology

Hometown: Kittanning, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: Bunton Waller Scholarship, Meads Scholarship, Phillips Trustees Scholarship, Todd Leadership Scholarship, Wright Leadership Scholarshipo, and the Chancellor Award Scholarship

On finding the right fit: When I was searching for a college, I had a hard time figuring out all the things you need to know to enter college. All my worries were quickly alleviated after I spoke with a representative for Penn State Behrend who was willing to work with me on the application process. When I visited and walked around the campus, I got an overwhelming feeling that this is where I belonged. Four years later, I can say that it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

On choosing her major: I wanted to help individuals who could not help themselves and be a representative for people of color in mental health services.

Her proudest accomplishment at Behrend: My proudest accomplishment will be graduating from college! It is something that I never thought I would do. I am the oldest child in my family and being able to graduate and serve as a role model to my siblings means the world to me. I have worked very hard for my degree. I’ve grown and accomplished so much during these last four years. I am grateful for everyone who has helped me get to where I am.

Campus involvement: During my time at Behrend I was involved in Random Acts of Kindness, Penn State Behrend Dems, Psi Chi, Psychology Club, Association of Black Collegians, Behrend Leadership Scholars, Academic Integrity Student Representative, Humanities and Social Sciences Ambassador, and the Student Multicultural Advisory Recruitment Team, and I worked as a Reed Union Building Desk Information Attendant. I also was a staff writer for the Behrend Beacon newspaper.

Awards and recognition: I received the T. Reed Ferguson Award during my junior year for my leadership both in both academic and nonacademic settings; the Outstanding Psychology Student award; and the Excellence in Service Award that I received as vice president of Random Acts of Kindness for our project with the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Erie. We made cards for veterans so that they would not feel lonely on holidays and birthdays.

What makes her unique: I am a big sister and that translates into everything that I do. This has given me a love of helping others and comforting individuals who may need a shoulder to cry on. I have an immense sense of empathy for all individuals, and I carry that into both my social and professional life.

Finding her confidence: I think people would be surprised to know that I used to be really scared of public speaking. Through my time working at the Reed Union Building Information Desk and learning from my supervisor, Christa Morris, I was able to develop my public speaking skills. Now, I can talk to large groups of people, give speeches, and chat to potential students and their families at recruiting events. The irony is that something I was terrified of when I started college is something I now love to do.

Her passion: I am passionate about equality, and I implement that into everything that I do. I always try my absolute hardest to make everyone whom I work with feel included and accepted for who they are. I feel that too often certain groups are silenced, and I strive to make every individual feel heard. I know what it is like to not be heard, and that is why I have worked so hard to get where I am and be able to serve as representation for the next generation of students entering college.

Advice for first-year students: Calm down. Life will work out how it is supposed to work out. I spent way too long stressing about having everything perfect, only to realize later that you cannot live in the present if all you do is worry about the future. Live in the now and enjoy what is happening in your life every day. The future will work out exactly how it is supposed to in due time.

Parting words: I’m so grateful for all the things I’ve gained at Behrend, including phenomenal professors, best friends, love, confidence, and so much more.

Briona plans to enter the Applied Clinical Psychology master’s program at Penn State Behrend.