Ivy Leaf - Fall 2013

My Penn State Altoona

Tyler Hoffman, Class of 2013


Student Marshal for the Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Biology Major

My collegiate journey was a unique one to say the least. I went from a small private college where I was on a first name basis with every staff and faculty member of the science building with a paid summer research position to a huge university where I was lost in a sea of people. At the former I felt bored, unchallenged, like I was wasting my potential. At the latter I was just a student ID number on a roster, lost amongst hundreds of peers, coasting through, unrecognized for what I was capable of and passed over for opportunities I felt I deserved.

Within three years, I had seen both extremes of the college spectrum: small, hands-on classes requiring minimal effort to excel contrasted with the massive, impersonal lectures with fantastic opportunities but little recognition of achievement. Altoona provided me the best of both worlds. Classes are small, especially the more advanced ones, but they are challenging, forcing students to do better than the bare minimum and encouraging us to learn as much as we can. Yet despite being a larger institution than my first school, I feel more at home here after two short years. My letters of recommendation for pharmacy school both came from Altoona professors, Dr. Palmer and Dr. Andrews, and my advisor Mary Kananen was helpful beyond measure with the application process. And this was after only one year at Altoona; these people had already shaped my future and took a personal interest in my success, and they were instrumental in the continuation of my educational goals. I truly can’t thank them enough.

Truthfully, I never felt settled wherever I went. I came to Altoona to reunite with friends and be closer to home, and I haven’t regretted that decision once. Without the continued support of my family and my unforgettable friends, both those I came home to and the new ones I’ve made, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So while my entire experience with school may not have been at Penn State Altoona, it has offered me the perspective to truly appreciate what is offered here: a personal, friendly environment with incredible opportunities and truly caring faculty and staff. Here students aren’t just a number. We aren’t just skating by. We are prepared for the future. We are Penn State.