Brandywine Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Haskins, class of 2000

Michelle Haskins

Michelle Haskins

Credit: Penn State

MEDIA, Pa. – Twenty-three years after earning her bachelor’s degree from Penn State, Michelle Haskins, class of 2000, is proud to serve as a member of the Brandywine Alumni Society.

Haskins began her Penn State journey at University Park in 1996, majoring in telecommunications. After obtaining a paid internship in Philadelphia during her final semester, she decided to complete her final credits at Brandywine, previously known as Penn State Delaware County.

Haskins was active as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc, the National Panhellenic Council, Parmi Nous and the Black caucus, among other groups. One of her most memorable moments was fundraising and dancing in THON.

The ability to jumpstart her career and complete her degree made coming to Brandywine an easy choice. However, the best part of attending Brandywine was the time she got to spend with her cousin, Marisha, who had just transferred to Brandywine as well. She recalled their morning drives to campus as one of her favorite memories at Brandywine.

“A great memory I have of my time at Brandywine was getting to drive to campus every morning with my cousin," she said. "We grew up together — we were like sisters but initially chose colleges very far away from each other. It was great being able to spend time with her. We would go to the fitness center together every morning as well. It was very cool getting to spend time with family during my last semester of college, especially considering I didn’t know anyone else.”

Upon graduating from Penn State, Haskins worked in corporate America while having what she called an entrepreneurial spirit. She started a clothing and jewelry line as a hobby and turned it into a business, but the company didn’t have a strong foundation or structure to become a full-fledged business.

“Even though I dissolved that business, it gave me the chance to realize that I want to be in control of my day and what I produce,” she said. She returned to corporate America knowing she would return to the entrepreneurial world eventually, but better prepared.

Upon realizing she no longer wanted to work in corporate America, her entrepreneurial spirit came calling again. She shifted to a career in insurance with the intention of one day opening her own agency. She spent five years learning the industry before starting her own independent agency, Choice Insurance Solutions, LLC. The hallmark of her agency is helping her clients find the best policy for the best price. Haskins advises her clients on the importance of asset protection and the role insurance plays in that. She specializes in finding options for home, auto and business insurance. Because her agency is independent, she has multiple carriers to choose from. She noted that Penn State helped shape her into the professional she is today from her time on campus but mostly through the power of the Penn State brand.

When people find out that I am also a Penn State alum, that sets me apart.

—Michelle Haskins , class of 2000

What Haskins said she enjoys most about her job is the lifelong learning the insurance industry brings, as well as the problem-solving she’s able to accomplish for her clients.

“The insurance industry relies on many things, like what’s going on in the housing industry, the economy, climate change can all affect insurance,” she said. “It’s very dynamic. I appreciate that it keeps me on my toes and keeps me learning. Penn State has helped start my journey as a lifelong learner. I never want to be complacent.”

In 2019, Haskins received an invitation to a Brandywine Alumni Society event called Brunch with the Board, where she was able to meet and talk with the executive board. Since she wanted to be involved in Penn State on a more local level, she decided to apply and was grateful to be accepted.

“It was perfect timing the way it worked out, too, because I had just started my insurance agency and wasn’t busy with many clients yet — I had extra time on my hands,” she said. “I wanted to get more involved with Penn State at a local level, so I figured joining the Brandywine Alumni Society was the way to do it.”

Haskins noted her favorite parts about being in the Brandywine Alumni Society are being connected with Penn State and having the ability to enact change on campus.

“I like how it ties me back to not just Penn State, but also the Brandywine campus, and I enjoy the way that we have the ability to enact change,” she said. “If we have an idea, we bring it to the proper authorities like Patton Vo (director of development), and he's been great with helping us. You can see an idea of what you want to see happen on campus come to fruition. I love that we get to see our impact.”

When asked what advice she would give to Penn State students, Haskins said students should understand that even after they graduate college, they won’t stop learning.

“Learning is a lifelong endeavor," she said. "When you graduate, you’re not going to know everything you need to know for your desired field, and that’s okay. It’s just not going to happen like that. Continuing to develop yourself is so important, and within that, you want to always look for the transferable skills you’re picking up along the way. I’d say that’s what has gotten me to where I am today. Some of those skills include communication, customer service and collaboration. No matter which career path you choose, those skills will always come in handy.”

Continuing to develop yourself is so important, and within that, you want to always look for the transferable skills you’re picking up along the way.

—Michelle Haskins , class of 2000