Marcy Herr, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native and Schreyer Honors College (SHC) alumna, graduated with Penn State degrees in Education (bachelor of science) and Public Policy (master of arts). Her dual-degree program focused on policy making, international education and educational leadership. She is currently participating in the Fulbright Program, a highly sought after nine-month international educational exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State. Herr began her program in Malaysia earlier this year.Here she shares her experiences and advice with new Schreyer Honors College Scholars who began their classes at Penn State last week.
I caved in and purchased my first Penn State alumni t-shirt.
A saying on the back of the shirt perfectly sums up of how I feel: “I wish I could go back, not to change anything, but to do it all over again.” The more time you spend at Penn State the more precious it seems to become as you recognize how quickly your time is speeding by. I could not be more appreciative of the time I had as a Penn State student, and I truly experienced the most incredible four years with people whom I will never forget.
I graduated from Penn State with no regrets and can honestly say that I made the most of the opportunities that were offered to me. At times, this definitely was not easy and it required me to break outside of my comfort zone, but I realized just how much of a privilege it is to be a Schreyer Scholar, and it only seemed right to take advantage of this experience. From day one at SHO TIME (Schreyer Honors College Orientation), Scholars are presented with unique opportunities that truly enhance the Penn State experience.
When I was a senior SHO TIME mentor, I realized that by mentoring and connecting to younger students, it gave me a sort of coping mechanism to slowly prepare myself to graduate. By sharing my passion for the SHC with first-years, I was able to provide them with the wisdom and advice that I have gained from my experience as a student.
Below are five tips for new Scholars to make the most of their experience in the Schreyer Honors College:
1. Read emails from the SHC
Weekly emails from the SHC are a gold mine of opportunities and are absolutely worth the couple minutes that it takes to read them. Whether it is information on study abroad programs, research, upcoming events, dinners with faculty members or high profile guest speakers or a variety of other items, I have had many incredible experiences that I discovered through these emails. The SHC is constantly providing unique ways to get involved and you definitely should not miss out on this!
2. Study Abroad
At Penn State, there is a study abroad program that fits the needs and interests of anyone’s academic plan, especially through the trips exclusively for Schreyer Scholars. "Building a global perspective” is one of the main priorities of the Schreyer Honors College. The SHC makes this a possibility for any Scholar by not only offering special programs, but also through the provision of travel grants.
For me, I knew that I was interested in a short-term study abroad program over the summer to a country that I would never dream of being able to explore on my own. When I learned of the chance to travel to India to volunteer in an orphanage for three weeks (through an SHC email that I took the time to read!), I knew that this was exactly the type of program that I was looking for. My trip to India introduced me to my closest friends in the SHC, gave me clarity on my future career goals, and developed my sense of independence.
3. Connect with the SHC staff
If you get involved and take the time to connect with the amazing staff members, the SHC will truly begin to feel like a second family. No matter how busy they are making the SHC experience possible for Scholars, everyone in Atherton will take the time to bond with students. The staff has so much passion for Scholars and thesis encouragement, career guidance, or friendly smiles can always be found in the SHC offices when you need it most.
4. Find your Passion by Getting Involved
This looks different for everyone and is what makes each Penn State experience unique. At a University this large, getting involved in one of the 900+ student organizations will help you find your place and connect to people who share similar passions. Leadership development, your closest Penn State friends, and unforgettable experiences are only a few reasons why it is important to plug yourself into clubs and activities at Penn State.
5. Make the Effort to Bond with Faculty Members
Schreyer Scholars have the privilege of being paired with an honors advisor and this can open doors to research or career opportunities, help guide the thesis process, and build a strong relationship with someone who will be a lifelong mentor. Penn State faculty members are doing amazing things and Scholars can learn a lot through their guidance.
I could not be more excited for our new Scholars because I know just how incredible your experience will be. Get involved, build relationships, and take advantage of everything that the SHC has to offer to make the most of your time here.
Continue to work hard because that is what got you to this point in the first place! Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and be open-minded to the experiences that await you at Penn State.
I am confident that Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College have prepared me for the next chapter of my life, and I am sure you will feel the same way as your graduation day approaches. I proudly don my Penn State alumni t-shirt as I have transitioned into the next chapter of my life, and thanks to the SHC, I know that I am ready.
Best of luck class of 2019 and new Gateway Scholars, and welcome to the Schreyer Honors College family!