Minor: Project and Supply Chain Management
Involvement: Resident assistant (RA); community service chair, National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS); student scheduler, Blue Apple Café
Brandywine: What was your deciding factor in coming to Penn State Brandywine?
Pio: I'm from Philly, and I wanted to stay local because I really do love the city, but also was looking for something safe and affordable. I was deciding between Brandywine and another local school. On my tour at the other college, I didn’t like it because they didn't welcome me. After all, I was undecided at the time. When I came to Brandywine, they had a whole program for undecided students. They talked about different general education courses. I thought Brandywine had that home feeling I was looking for, so I went with Brandywine.
Brandywine: How did you choose your major?
Pio: When I was in middle school and high school, I wanted to be a dentist. My high school required an internship, so I interned at my dentist office, and I realized how annoying the drilling sound was. When I realized that wasn’t for me, I looked up jobs similar to dentistry, but not in the medical field, and “esthetician” popped up, which is someone who works in skin care. I really wanted to go into that field, and my mom suggested I go to esthetician school and get a business degree so I could run my own esthetics business one day. Last summer, I got my esthetician license, and I’m now about to graduate with my business degree, so I’m nearing my end goal.
Brandywine: What challenges have you faced at Brandywine, if any?
Pio: The first challenge I faced was adapting to a new environment in a post-pandemic world. I graduated from high school in 2020, so I wasn’t able to tour the campus and didn’t know too much about the University. When I started having classes in person, I had no idea where I was going, but luckily the staff was so friendly and willing to help me find my way. I would say becoming an RA was an adjustment, too. I went from sharing a room with my mom to having a room to myself, while also being responsible for 60 students.
Brandywine: Who at Brandywine has supported you, and how?
Pio: Honestly, I hate to sound cliche, but everyone I’ve interacted with on campus has supported me. I would say the residence life staff and the housing and food services staff have had my back through everything. My academic advisers have guided me significantly with just continuing my major and making sure I stay on track.
Brandywine: What has been your greatest accomplishment at Brandywine so far?
Pio: I would say my greatest accomplishment was probably receiving the “RA of the Year” award last year. I wasn’t expecting it because I was a new RA and I thought I was messing things up constantly. I feel like the connections I made with the residents and nonresidents just by living on campus were just so beneficial for me.
Brandywine: What made you interested in becoming an RA? What do you enjoy most about it?
Pio: I got an email asking if I wanted to be an RA. I never really thought about it because I live 30 minutes away, so there was no need for me to live on campus. I knew I wanted to live on campus for at least one year, and being an RA took care of some finances. The best part about it is being on campus all the time because back when I was living in Philly, I was working full time, commuting, and a full-time student.
Brandywine: With your involvement at Brandywine, how has your time on campus been impacted?
Pio: I work in the Blue Apple Cafe, so I see everyone in the dining hall. I'm an RA, so I see everyone where I live. Then, I'm in clubs, so I just see everyone all the time, and I love it. The main reason why I came here was because of the community feeling, and even if people don't know you, they can always come up and talk to you, and I just love that. When I was commuting and working full time, I went to class, left and went to work. I had no connections with anybody. Forming those connections with the people has just been awesome.
The main reason why I came here was because of the community feeling, and even if people don't know you, they can always come up and talk to you, and I just love that.
—Kaitlyn Pio , fourth-year business student, Penn State Brandywine
Brandywine: What’s one piece of advice you have for students who are looking to get involved?
Pio: Do it. I was hesitant because I come from a low-income household, so I always had to work. I would say make sure that you are available to be involved and put in that time commitment if you can. But even if you don't have the time, join one club that interests you or attend just one event. I participated in one of the PokeWalk Club’s events this year. It was fun walking around with people and catching Pokémon for a few minutes out of my day. Doing that helps you find people who have similar interests as you, and then they can become your friends.
Brandywine: What’s the best memory you made at Brandywine and why?
Pio: It was last year at Big B.E.A.S.T. Blowout. One of the events held there was “Pie an RA,” so I saw which residents had it out for me, and it was so much fun just connecting with everybody, doing the obstacle course, hanging out with fellow RAs and so many other students on campus. I made friends that day and I wasn't expecting to. People were coming up to pie me who I never met before, so I said, “Tell me about yourself if you’re going to pie me.” That was one of the best days I have had here.
Brandywine: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at Brandywine?
Pio: Mistakes are OK. Honestly, since I started here, I've made so many mistakes. I procrastinated, I turned things in late, I made mistakes as an RA, and I made mistakes as an NSLS board member. As long as you take accountability, you're OK. I was so scared to mess up that I messed up by default. I remember one time, I was talking to Jasmaine Price-Thornton (residence life coordinator) during a one-on-one meeting, and she told me, “Mistakes are OK. It’s fine.” Once she defined that for me, I knew as long as I owned up to my mistakes and learned how to fix them, I’d be OK.