Major/minor: Chemistry major, biology minor
Involvement: President of Sustainability Club, STEM lab tutor, student mentor for Multilingual and International Student Programs, student mentor for Lion Guidez, honors student at Schreyer Honors College
Brandywine: Why did you choose Penn State Brandywine?
Guerin: Originally, I was meant to go to a different university in Massachusetts — I had all my classes picked out and everything. About a week before I had to leave, I realized that it wasn’t a great fit. I had already gotten accepted to Penn State, and Brandywine is right down the street from where I live, so I decided to go for it. I’m so glad I made that decision.
Brandywine: How did you pick your major?
Guerin: I just switched majors, so it's been a bit of a journey. I had a major in biology because I was told that’s what I needed to go to medical school or to get a Ph.D. I found that I was enjoying my chemistry classes a lot more than my biology classes — I was a lot more enthused about them. With that in mind, I decided I was going to change my major to chemistry.
Brandywine: What challenges have you faced at Brandywine?
Guerin: Getting involved here at first was difficult because I’m a commuter. I didn’t do anything my first semester. I basically just went to classes, and then I went home and did my homework. I wouldn't even stay in the library to do my homework. I'd just go home, which made it hard to get involved. I didn't go to any events or anything. In my second semester, I got a job on campus, and that really made all the difference. Suddenly, I was interacting with people who I wasn't in classes with. I had more faculty that I was talking to as well, and that really made a huge difference. After I got the job, I was suddenly doing much more.
Brandywine: How has Penn State Brandywine supported your efforts? Who at Brandywine has supported you?
Guerin: The faculty here are amazing. They go above and beyond for all their students. Personally, my adviser, Dr. Kurt Kistler, has absolutely changed my life here. He's always so supportive. He always answers my very long emails. He'll always make time for me on his busy days. He's always there for good advice about what to do, and he really pushes me to be a better student.
"The faculty here are amazing. They go above and beyond for all their students."
Brandywine: How did you find out about your excursion at sea with OceanX? What made you want to apply?
Guerin: Dr. (Camille) Gaynus, one of the biology professors, emailed the application to our first-year seminar class, and I thought it was such a unique experience. Most internships, especially in STEM fields, are kind of the same general thing: you're either in the lab for a few weeks or doing field work for a few weeks. When I heard about being able to spend time on a boat for 11 days in the ocean, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
"When I heard about being able to spend time on a boat for 11 days in the ocean, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up."
Brandywine: What’s one part of your excursion that was your favorite and why?
Guerin: My favorite part about this excursion was meeting so many new people. Doing the science and the media and all that was fun but getting to know all the people that helped run that big ship was so cool. There were so many different countries represented, and they all had such unique backgrounds and experiences, from the engineers to the captain, to all the scientists on board. There were just so many different types of people to meet and interact and learn from. That was the best part of it.
Brandywine: What have been your greatest accomplishments at Brandywine?
Guerin: Becoming a STEM lab tutor is one of my biggest accomplishments, here, at Brandywine. I wasn't a very good student in high school — I really struggled. I didn’t have a great GPA, and I wasn’t very involved, either. I went from being that student who was really struggling, to doing so well in my classes that I would be nominated to tutor those classes. I felt like all my hard work paid off.
Brandywine: With all the extracurriculars you’re involved in, how have they impacted your time on campus?
Guerin: All my extracurricular activities make me spend more time on campus than I would otherwise, which is great. Without these extracurriculars, I probably would still just go to classes and go home. When I started to take on all my extracurriculars, I got to know people outside of my classes that I usually wouldn't interact with. I got to know faculty that I usually wouldn't interact with as well, and so it really broadened the scope of people I know, which is so important.
"To see that they could all achieve all sorts of things with different levels of education — that made a big impact on me. It made me think more about why I want to pursue certain degrees."
Brandywine: What was the most valuable lesson you learned while out at sea?
Guerin: The main thing that I got from the experience was the different levels of training and background you can have to do science and do STEM. I think a lot of the time when you're in a university, you're surrounded by academia, and it's engrained in your mind that you have to get your Ph.D. On the ship, though, there were so many people with different levels of education, not just people with doctorates. There were people with master's degrees, double master's, technical college, maritime academy, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, all these different levels of education. To see that they could all achieve all sorts of things with different levels of education — that made a big impact on me. It made me think more about why I want to pursue certain degrees.
Brandywine: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at Brandywine?
Guerin: I think one of the big things that I've learned at Brandywine is to celebrate my accomplishments and wins. It was a big hole I found myself falling into, where I'd have a big exam or project, spend so much time on it, submit it, and forget about it. It didn't make me feel good, so I started trying to take moments after, especially after getting the grades back, to celebrate the work I did. I think that has changed my outlook on grades, exams and projects. It makes me feel a lot better when I celebrate myself after each of those big milestones.
If you instill self-affirmations in your head before a big project or exam, it makes receiving the grade in the end feel so much better. It makes me feel more confident in myself and in the work I’m doing.
"One of the big things that I've learned at Brandywine is to celebrate my accomplishments and wins."