Road to Commencement: Katya Iatsenko

Katya Iatsenko

Katya Iatsenko received her bachelor of science degree in biology at Penn State Brandywine’s spring commencement ceremony on May 8. 

Credit: Mike McDade

Name: Katya Iatsenko
Major: Biology
Graduation Date: May 8, 2021

Katya Iatsenko, who received her bachelor of science degree in biology at Penn State Brandywine’s spring commencement ceremony on May 8, reflects on her time as a student at Brandywine.

Iatsenko: When I was looking at colleges, Penn State wasn’t really on my radar to be honest. But then Jeremy Branch came to my high school and talked about everything that Penn State Brandywine had to offer, and I realized that Penn State was one of the best and the smartest options for continuing my education. After doing some research and visiting the campus, I knew Brandywine was the right choice for me.

When I first started at Brandywine I got involved in as many activities as I could just to get plugged into the campus community. I was involved with the Student Government Association, Lion Ambassadors, and the Nittany Christian Fellowship Club, to name a few. But I really found my niche in doing undergraduate research in the biology lab.

I didn't really have much of a background in biology when I started my research, but I was eager and excited. Dr. Povelones [former assistant professor of biology] saw my enthusiasm and took a chance on me, and I’m so happy that she did. I had the opportunity to present my research in the first and second annual Parasitology Conferences held at University Park, and I was the only undergraduate student presenting at the conference. Taking that next step and presenting my research to experts in the field was a transformative experience for me.

The faculty and staff at Brandywine are truly some of the most encouraging people I’ve met. It's clear that they care about students' success and do everything they can to support them. For example, I told my adviser, Dr. Kistler, that I really wanted to study abroad for a semester. He worked tirelessly to make that happen and opened those doors for me. His support allowed me to spend a semester studying in Singapore.

My involvement on campus has given me a lot more confidence. At Brandywine, I learned that just believing in myself and taking chances will lead to better opportunities in the future. That mentality is something I’ll carry with me well beyond my time at Brandywine.

Being able to develop relationships with the students, faculty and staff at Brandywine is something that I will look back at fondly. Throughout my time on campus, I’ve seen a lot of changes, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic. But no matter what, those relationships remain, and that's really what makes Brandywine special.