Involvement: Member, Black Student Union; member, Council for Latino and African American Student Success (CLAASS); member, Networking Club; student-worker, mail room
Brandywine: What was your deciding factor in attending Penn State Brandywine?
McGill: My deciding factor coming to Brandywine was how close it is to home. I also already had a family member who went here, too. I wanted a mix of being close to my family while still being able to be independent and on my own, in a sense.
Brandywine: How did you choose your major?
McGill: When I started here, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do something in the communications field, but I wasn’t sure what to specialize in. At first, I wanted to study film and video production, but after taking those classes, I knew it wasn’t for me. Then, I took a broadcast journalism class, and I realized that wasn’t for me either. It wasn’t until I took a public relations class with Karen Theveny (assistant teaching professor of communications) that I realized what I wanted to do.
Brandywine: What challenges have you faced at Brandywine, if any?
McGill: Being a student through the pandemic was very hard. It was something no one has ever gone through, not even our professors. None of us knew how online school really worked. I feel like with Brandywine, the campus is very community-based, and everyone is here if you need help. Someone is always going to be here to support you. I always felt so supported during that time by my adviser, my peers and my professors. Also, I’m a first-generation college student, so being the first out of my siblings to go to college is a challenge.
Brandywine: What has been your greatest accomplishment at Brandywine so far?
McGill: I’d say my greatest accomplishment is still being enrolled in college. ... I’m still here pushing through, and I’m almost at the finish line to graduate.
Brandywine: What made you interested in joining CLAASS? What do you enjoy most about it?
McGill: At the beginning of my college journey, I would find myself being the only person of color in class sometimes, and I felt that it could be a little intimidating. When I heard an organization was created on campus where I could be seen and heard and be around people like me, I wanted to join. I really enjoy being able to hear different people’s perspectives and listen to their stories because there are so many more factors about someone than meets the eye.
Brandywine: With your involvement at Brandywine, how has your time on campus been impacted?
McGill: My job in the mail room is very flexible, so in between classes, I’m able to go to work, do homework and attend campus events. Now that I’m a fourth-year student, I find myself having a lot more free time to get work done, go to club meetings and hang out with friends.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and look for what you need. I feel like when people are placed in a new environment, they’re scared to ask for help because they fear rejection. Everyone here at Brandywine is here to help you.
—Jared McGill , fourth-year corporate communications major, Penn State Brandywine
Brandywine: What’s one piece of advice you would give to students who are looking to get involved?
McGill: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and look for what you need. I feel like when people are placed in a new environment, they’re scared to ask for help because they fear rejection. Everyone here at Brandywine is here to help you.
Brandywine: What’s the best memory you had at Brandywine so far?
McGill: I have a lot of good memories here, but I think the best one was my time as a resident assistant (RA) last year. I know my fellow RAs were there for me; they were my safe place because I’d never been away from home before. I didn’t have any friends who came here with me. The RAs were a big support system for me in the beginning. I also really enjoyed being there for my residents.
Brandywine: What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at Brandywine?
McGill: I would say the most valuable lesson I’ve learned at Brandywine is to not let other people’s perceptions of you shape who you are.