Penn State Brandywine Student Spotlight: Jannat Chowdhury

A student standing in front of a brick wall.

Penn State Brandywine second-year student Jannat Chowdhury is a leader in several campus organizations.

Credit: Bill Tyson

Major: Psychology

Minor: Ethics and Civic Engagement

Year: Second

Involvement: resident assistant, president of the Blue and White Society, president of the Civic and Community Engagement Club, vice president of Multicultural Club, Student Government Association Senator, member of Brandywine Events and Activities Support Team, Lion Guide/PaSSS mentor, intern at the Center for Ethics & Civic Engagement

Brandywine: Why do you think it's important to be involved on campus?

Chowdhury: In high school I was treasurer of our executive board. We planned homecoming, senior prom and flea markets, and I loved it. When coming to Brandywine, our Student Government Association was actually the first club I joined and gradually from there I joined more and more clubs. This year I worked to have officer positions as well. I've always been the type that wanted to be well-rounded. I feel that there's just so much in the world and on campus to do and I want to be a part of all of it, which isn't really the most ideal, but I'm trying my best to make it work! Striving to be well-rounded not only has helped me make connections and learn something new from someone in every department, but also has me feel the most productive out of my day. It has given me great opportunities as a student leader by putting me in situations outside of my own comfort zone to add more depth to my own existing knowledge.

Brandywine: What got you interested in Civic and Community Engagement?

Chowdhury: I was a program support intern for the Center for Ethics and Civic Engagement. I was actually the only freshman intern. The president of the Civic and Community Engagement Club reached out to me and she thought I would be a perfect fit. Through my internship, that's where my minor came in. I just really fell in love with it and realized how much I love working with other communities to do service, implement volunteerism and spread social justice.

Brandywine: Why did you choose Penn State Brandywine?

Chowdhury: I had three top schools and I made a pros and cons list. At the end of the day, I know I made the right choice because of the environment here. I love the class size. We as students can have that one-on-one relationship with our professors where we can all have that connection and actually get to know each other. I think we have more opportunities when you're at a smaller campus. I also know that I made the right choice because after I committed and told my family, I found out that I had other alumni in my family who went to Brandywine that were ecstatic as ever!

Everybody has supported me this far in my life, and this is another reason why I love Brandywine so much. Everybody treats you like a family, from my coworkers in my other roles, to all my residents, even the professors always understand.

—Jannat Chowdhury , Second-year student

Brandywine: What have been your greatest accomplishments at Brandywine?

Chowdhury: Being an RA [resident assistant]. I never really expected that out of myself. Last year I was a commuter and I didn't really get the full college experience, plus there was COVID so we were all sitting six feet apart, and we didn't really get to talk to each other. We'd go in and out because we were too busy and worried about our lives. Now that I am an RA, I see that I want to work with human services with my major. So, I think I'm doing all that right now. And I feel like every day here, I have my work environment, my academic environment, my personal life, all in one.

I see that as my greatest accomplishment, being an RA, knowing everybody on my floor, having them come to me for support, and vice versa. I love the constant human interaction and the satisfaction that comes from helping someone, and I see this role as a way of developing my career. I’m starting what I want to do in the future right now!

Brandywine: What got you interested in psychology?

Chowdhury: I actually applied at other colleges as a chemistry major. But we didn't offer chemistry, so I chose biology. I wanted to be a pharmacist. And then I was like, "I kind of want to be a social worker." It was more a spontaneous thing, but I always loved psychology. So, you can say it was just out of the blue and I decided to change it, but I fell in love with it as I was going.

Brandywine: How has Penn State Brandywine supported your efforts?

Chowdhury: Everybody has supported me this far in my life, and this is another reason why I love Brandywine so much. Everybody treats you like a family, from my coworkers in my other roles, to all my residents, even the professors always understand. They were college students once, too, so they know how to support me and what I need before I even know I need it. I love being involved in so much because there are different people in each group and they all get me and they all support me in a type of way.

Brandywine: What's been the most valuable lesson you've learned at Brandywine?

Chowdhury: Brandywine has taught me to take time off for myself. I never knew how to do that. There are always people asking me if I need help and I've been more open to letting people help me out instead of trying to be a perfectionist or doing everything my own way. I always saw everything that I do as something I love to do, so I don't see it as work, more as my lifestyle or my hobby. But then I forget that my own lifestyle has to have a set schedule of eating and sleeping too. So, that I've learned. More self-care.

Brandywine: Did you face any challenges transitioning to college?

Chowdhury: I'm a first-generation college student so I had no idea how to do anything. I had to get a College Possible coach, and that's what inspired me to be a Lion Guide and a peer mentor for college students. I'm a mentor for international and first-generation college students. I'm doing that because I don't think I'd be here, where I am today, without the support I received. And that's what I want to do for other students.