Road to Commencement: Kaitlyn Pio

Kaitlyn Pio wearing cap and gown

Kaitlyn Pio will graduate from Penn State Brandywine in May 2024 with a degree in business. 

Credit: Penn State

Major: Business

Minor: Supply Chain Management

Graduation Date: May 4, 2024

As Kaitlyn Pio prepares to graduate on May 4, she reflects on her time as a student at Penn State Brandywine and the unique experiences she had.

“I chose to attend Penn State Brandywine because I was able to save money while attending a school that’s close to home,” she said. “I was also attracted to the welcoming environment Brandywine has.”

Pio noted that she realized she wanted to attend Brandywine after going on a tour of the campus.

“When I told the Lion Ambassadors I was undecided, they told me that it’s OK and I’ll figure out what I want to do with time,” she said. “I felt like other schools were pushing me to take up a certain area of study, while Brandywine made me feel like I didn’t have to know exactly what I wanted to do the minute I got here. I also got that home-away-from-home feeling instantly.”

During her third year, Pio decided to get involved with Residence Life as a resident assistant (RA) in Orchard Hall. She noted that becoming an RA was her transition into getting involved on campus.

“Being an RA has taught me so much. I’ve gotten to know so many people from all different walks of life and how we relate to one another. It’s been a very well-rounded experience,” she said. “Through being an RA, I was able to learn that people cope in different ways, and it made me more aware of what other people go through.”

In addition to being an RA, Pio also serves on the Student Initiated Fee committee and is the community service chair for the National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS).

“My time in NSLS has really made me realize that every team works together differently, and I feel like that’s great insight for the field I want to go into,” she said. “Since I want to go into business management, my future career will revolve around managing other people, and it’s important to know that people and teams get work done in different ways. Some people need to be interactive, while others just need to do everything on paper, for example.”

Pio notes that one of her greatest accomplishments during her time at Brandywine was forming connections with her residents during her time as an RA.

“As an RA, my job is to have my residents’ backs, and I feel like they also have mine,” she said. “I got pretty sick last semester, so I had to leave the residence hall for over a week. When I came back, the residents told me how much they missed me. I feel that knowing they care about me too is an achievement in itself.”

When reflecting on her favorite memory from her time at Brandywine, an event from the beginning of the spring semester of her fourth year came to mind.

“At the beginning of this semester, there was a crazy storm, which resulted in a power outage in the residence hall. Since no one was able to charge their phones, people went out into the hallway and talked to each other,” she recalled.

“I was on duty that night, and while I was doing my rounds, I saw so many people engaging with one another. People were playing board games and card games with one another. Once the power came back on, people went back to their regular routines, but that night really showed me how great it is to not constantly be on our phones.”

After graduating in May, Pio will head to Penn State Great Valley to complete her master’s degree in business administration.

Students can learn so much by getting involved, and they can also have so much fun. Everything I got involved with has really stuck with me and has been really eye-opening.

—Kaitlyn Pio , fourth-year business major, Penn State Brandywine

Being so involved in multiple activities on campus while having the goal in mind to graduate on time, Pio said the most valuable lesson she learned was to not be so hard on herself.

“The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to be kind to myself. I feel like overall, everyone has extended grace, and the only person that’s hard on you is yourself,” she said. “It feels nice to know that most of the time, people are going to give you grace if you need a deadline extended, for example, so it’s important to also give yourself that grace and know it’s okay to ask for that help.”

When advising future Brandywine students, Pio said to get involved in as much as you can.

“Students can learn so much by getting involved, and they can also have so much fun,” she said. “Everything I got involved with has really stuck with me and has been really eye-opening. I know college is supposed to be about academics, but you can’t get through it without that support system you gain by getting involved.”