Brandywine Student Spotlight: Sara Hallahan

Sara smiling

Sara Hallahan

Credit: Penn State

Year: First

Major: Undeclared

Involvement: Member, Brandywine Events and Activities Student Team (B.E.A.S.T.); member, THON; Lion Ambassador; honors student, Cooper Honors Program

Brandywine: What was your deciding factor in coming to Penn State Brandywine?

Hallahan: I was looking for a small campus that still had the feel of a large university and was close to home, and Penn State Brandywine was that school. I wanted to go to a school where my professors knew my name. Interacting with my peers, inside and outside the classroom, was also important. Additionally, as I began undeclared, I wanted a school with various degree options. Penn State has so many majors, so I knew if I did not find an area of study I was interested in at Brandywine, I could finish my program at a different Penn State campus.

Brandywine: As a student with an undeclared major, what areas of study are you looking into?

Hallahan: During my college search, I found it extremely difficult to narrow down a major as I had so many interests. I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in something hands-on and that interested me, but I couldn’t pinpoint an exact major. I took a child development class in high school and enjoyed it, so when I found out that Brandywine had a human development and family studies program, I decided to look into it further. It was a major that was hands-on and had many different career options. I decided to take an introductory course in my first semester, and I’m excited to look into the subject further.

Brandywine: What challenges have you faced at Brandywine, if any?

Hallahan: My biggest challenge thus far has been balancing my schoolwork and personal life. Balancing my classes, homework and extracurricular activities has been somewhat challenging, and the pressure to meet my academic expectations has been stressful. Finding time for social activities, self-care and hobbies is tough, but I’m learning how to set clear priorities and allocate time for the things that are important to me. Preventing burnout and setting realistic goals have become essential. It’s an ongoing challenge, but I’ve started to create a healthy routine in the second half of my first semester.

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

Hallahan: Elizabeth Parrett (student disability resources coordinator) has helped me with my college transition. I’m an individual who struggles with transitions, and starting college was a huge one. She was extremely helpful in informing me about all the resources on campus and how I could use them to my advantage. She was very welcoming from the very start and truly wanted to support me in my college journey. I know she’s someone I can go to if I ever need additional help or have an issue to work through.

Brandywine: What has your experience been like transitioning from high school to college?

Hallahan: Adapting to college life has been an adjustment. The courses are more challenging compared to high school. I’ve had to adjust to new teaching styles and higher expectations, making it crucial to focus on improving my time management. Leaving my friends of 13 years was also challenging. The thought of meeting new people and forming new friendships was both exciting and nerve-wracking. However, I’ve found my new normal being on campus these past few weeks. I’ve already made numerous relationships with peers, staff and faculty. There are so many resources on campus to help you thrive, so the transition has been somewhat of a breeze.

Brandywine: What made you interested in joining THON? What do you enjoy most about it?

Hallahan: I learned about THON through my older sister who participated last year. She went to University Park for THON weekend, and my family and I tuned in to the live-streamed event. It was such an incredible experience to watch as I had never seen something quite like it before, so when I saw the THON poster at the involvement fair, I knew I wanted to get involved. One thing that I enjoy most about THON is seeing everyone come together to work towards a common goal. Being a part of a larger community that rallies to support a cause that helps so many is amazing.

Being open to change and unpredictability has assisted me with not only overcoming initial difficulties but also growing and becoming more resilient.

—Sara Hallahan , first-year student, Penn State Brandywine

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

Hallahan: I knew I wanted to get involved on campus from the very beginning. Everyone, including my college friends and older siblings, told me it would be the best thing I could do for myself, and they were right. Penn State Brandywine has a wide variety of organizations on campus, so it was nearly impossible to find something I wasn’t interested in exploring. I decided to jump in by joining three clubs and being part of the honors program. My involvement in clubs, organizations and activities has added to my college experience, allowing me to develop leadership, communication and teamwork skills. These experiences have also made me feel much more connected to the campus community.

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

Hallahan: During my first semester, I’ve learned that being adaptable is critical. College can be full of unexpected changes and challenges, like new and demanding classes or different learning environments. Being open to change and unpredictability has assisted me with not only overcoming initial difficulties but also growing and becoming more resilient. It’s taught me to embrace new experiences, see problems as opportunities, and develop a flexible mindset that will be valuable in both my academic and personal life.