Brandywine Student Spotlight: Julia Pagano

Julia Pagano

Julia Pagano

Credit: Penn State

Year: Fourth

Major: Communications

Involvement: Member and dancer, Brandywine Benefitting THON

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

Pagano: I actually started my college journey at a different university, and then after the pandemic I transferred to Penn State Altoona. My sister was a Penn Stater, and my brother became a Penn Stater as well; we’re a huge Penn State family. I transitioned to Brandywine because I’m from Delaware County and wanted to be closer to home. I liked that the campus was smaller. I’m more comfortable with my professors here, and it feels more like home than my other colleges did. I like the fact that it’s a tight-knit community, but it’s still Penn State.

Brandywine: How did you choose your major?

Pagano: From a young age, I was always passionate about writing, so I decided I wanted to major in communications with a journalism track. I was very passionate about it, and it’s something I knew I was good at. I don’t get writer’s block too often. I ended up making the switch to the public relations and marketing track because I found it more interesting.

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

Pagano: Making friends was the biggest challenge I faced at Brandywine. Even though Brandywine is a small campus, I’m a commuter, so I found it harder to make friends. When I got involved with THON, Noa Castiel was the first friend I made who I still talk to consistently.

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

Pagano: Noa has really supported me during my time at Brandywine. She made me feel like I could make friends on my own. She also really helped me during THON weekend. She was the person who really helped and supported me.

I’ve also felt like I’ve been supported by so many people on this campus, whether it’s students in my classes who I worked with on a project, or professors I’ve had. My adviser told me she’s noticed how far I’ve come as a student, and that made me feel great.

Brandywine: What made you interested in joining THON?

Pagano: I was interested in joining THON because I have a connection to childhood cancer; my brother, Vinnie, passed away when he was five and a half from cancer. The past few years I’ve been at Penn State, my mom has been encouraging me to get involved with THON, and I didn’t get involved in it until this year. Noa actually invited me to join since she was the co-chair this year, and I told her how I wanted to get involved. It was not only something I wanted to do, but my family wanted to be a part of it too.

Brandywine: What advice do you have for students who are looking to get involved?

Pagano: They should just go for it because you don’t want to look back and say you wish you were able to get involved but didn’t. If you’re interested in something but you’re scared of what people might think, who cares? Just do what you want to do. College is a time to figure out what you like and don’t like. The more you get involved, the more you get to figure out about yourself.

I’m more in touch with my peers and the Brandywine community because I’m involved.

—Julia Pagano , fourth-year communications major, Penn State Brandywine

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

Pagano: It’s made going to school more enjoyable because I don’t feel that lonely. I’ll walk around campus and see someone I know and say “hi.” I didn’t have that at Brandywine before I got involved. I was just going to class, doing what I had to do and going home. Now, I’ll go to THON meetings, and I’ll get lunch with my friends. I’m more in touch with my peers and the Brandywine community because I’m involved. Now that I got involved in THON, I feel like I have more purpose.

Brandywine: What's your favorite memory you've made at Brandywine?

Pagano: The day I was chosen to be a THON dancer was my favorite memory at Brandywine. I had to give a speech and had to leave the room while members voted. Having so many people I just met only a few months prior care that much about giving me this opportunity meant a lot to me. Experiencing that kindness from my peers was great.

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

Pagano: The most valuable lesson I’ve learned at Brandywine is to get more in touch with my professors. While it’s so important to get involved throughout your Penn State journey, it’s also really important to focus on your academics and form connections with your professors. Take every opportunity in college for what it is and just enjoy it. Enjoy your opportunity to go to college and get an education.