Penn State Brandywine Student Spotlight: Marvellous Ibikunle

man standing in front of trees

Marvelous Ibikunle

Credit: Penn State

Year: Fourth

Major: Biology

Involvement: Orientation leader; member of Student Government Association, Pre-Med Club, Black Student Union and DMAX Club

Brandywine: Why did you choose to attend Penn State Brandywine?

Ibikunle: I chose it at first because of how close it is to home. I was going to do the 2+2 program and transition to University Park when I first came here. I talked with students when I first came to Brandywine. They told me how it was so much easier to communicate with professors, and how much smaller the class sizes were than at University Park, and that drew me in. The small campus makes it feel more personable. After staying here for a while, I made so many bonds with students, and I found it easy to make meaningful connections with my professors, so I decided to stay.

Brandywine: How did you choose your major?

Ibikunle: Ever since I was a kid, my mom had always told me I was going to be a doctor. I didn’t think that was going to happen; I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career yet. When I got to Brandywine, I began doing research and talking with professors who have experience in the biology field. I also realized throughout college how interested I am in biology. All of this combined made my major an easy pick.

Brandywine: What challenges have you faced at Brandywine?

Ibikunle: Going through my first year of college during a pandemic was really challenging. I had just moved to the United States from Nigeria two years prior, so I had to figure out how to learn online while also adapting to the American education system. That time period was very overwhelming because of all the things I had to do. I was never on computers or phones before then; that’s just the way I grew up. Now, I had to figure out things like how Wi-Fi worked and how to take classes online. That time period messed up my biological clock and my socializing skills, too.

I had to adapt to the rigorous academic workload coming into college too. I didn’t have a very heavy workload in high school, so I just wasn’t used to it. I found myself struggling with school, but my professors really helped me out with that. I dropped some extracurricular activities along the way and had to quit an off-campus job that wanted me to work full-time hours. I got a job that worked with my school schedule, and I trained myself to embrace discipline and gain more self-love and respect. I had to bring myself back to the mindset I had before the pandemic. Trying to adapt to both school and life in a post-pandemic world overall was just challenging. 

Brandywine: Who at Brandywine has supported you, and how?

Ibikunle: Two professors who really helped me in my college experience were Dr. (James) Berkey (associate professor of English and associate director of academic affairs) and Dr. (Elizabeth) Womack (associate professor of English). They were both great and really supported me throughout my time here. Also, my brother Goodness (a third-year student who is transitioning to University Park) has been one of my biggest supporters here. Experiencing college with my brother has made my experience so much better. We give each other advice and we figure out problems together.

Brandywine: What made you interested in becoming an orientation leader? What do you enjoy most about it?

Ibikunle: I first found out about it from a sign in the Student Union. I figured it would be a great leadership opportunity for me, so I decided to try it out. I became really interested in it because I wanted to help give first-year students a positive orientation experience. I don’t really remember my orientation too well because it happened right around the time the pandemic started. Just the shock of going into a lockdown made me forget my own experience. I wanted to experience it again, maybe not from the incoming-student perspective, but from the other side of it. I want to be there for incoming students to help them make better decisions at the beginning of their college experience. I really enjoy providing them with valuable information, like who to talk to if they have a specific question or any advice that I could give them. I also like seeing the new students come to Brandywine with mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement.

Brandywine: With your involvement at Brandywine, how has your time on campus been impacted?

Ibikunle: My involvement on campus has really changed my college experience, especially after the pandemic. Coming to Brandywine in 2020, I thought online learning was going to encompass my whole college experience. Since returning to in-person learning, I became so involved on campus, and it really enriched my college experience. Joining so many clubs and activities on campus allowed me to meet really nice people and build longtime friendships. I further developed my leadership skills, and my social skills came back after deteriorating during the pandemic. It also helped me expand my network. It broadened my horizon and helped me grow both personally and professionally.

"Joining so many clubs and activities on campus allowed me to meet really nice people and build longtime friendships."

—Marvellous Ibikunle , fourth-year biology student, Penn State Brandywine

Brandywine: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at Brandywine?

Ibikunle: The most valuable lesson I’ve learned at Brandywine is the importance of perseverance and adaptability. Life is very unexpected; it throws so many things at you. Being a person who perseveres and adapts really well helps you face life’s challenges. I feel like being in college presents students with so many challenges, both personally and academically, and if you stay resilient and embrace change, you will discover your own capacity for growth. I would say who I was when I first got here is completely different from the person I am now. Hopefully, this lesson I’ve learned at Brandywine will help me in my future endeavors.