High School: Great Commission School, Altoona, PA
Why Penn State Altoona?
I came here mainly because I was able to save money and still live at home with my parents when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to earn a degree in or where I wanted to go. It was more or less for lack of better options/motivation, but it worked out!
Why the L.A.S. program?
Initially I was an English major, but the more classes in the humanities that I took, I realized I was equally interested in courses like history, philosophy, and women’s studies. Through LAS, I am able to combine several subjects that both satisfy my interests and passions, as well as relate to one another.
My Major: “Humanities and Cultures”
I am interested in literature and analyzing all of the aspects that an English course would incorporate, however, I seem to be more passionate about the historical context of a literary work than many English courses touch on. Particularly, I like integrating the literature that has come out of a specific time and culture in history such as African American slavery or the Holocaust. I am also interested in women’s history as well as gender roles that have evolved throughout history, and particularly issues that women all across the world deal with today.
Did you plan to stay four years?
I intended on going to Penn State Altoona for a year and transfer to a private school in Oklahoma, Temple University, or University Park at least.
Why did you stay?
I changed my mind partly for the LAS degree and partly to save money by continuing to live at home, which allows me to spend that money that would be spent on living expenses on traveling abroad. However, if I did not have the professors I have and wasn’t able to connect to the “family” atmosphere of Penn State Altoona, I still would have transferred to another university or University Park. I feel as though I have finally found my “niche” both in my academic courses and degree, as well as with my professors of those courses.
What do you plan to do with your degree upon graduating from Penn State? My immediate post-grad plans include participating in the Peace Corps, should I get accepted. I am also looking into other volunteer abroad experiences or teaching English as a Second Language abroad, and getting that certification if necessary. Ultimately, I wish to get a Masters and PhD in whatever area I choose and teach on the college level. I also hope to somehow get into non-profit work overseas.
For more information:
Dr. Sandra H. Petrulionis
Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies
Arts and Humanities
Office: 129 Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts
Sandra Harbert Petrulionis is the author of "To Set This World Right: The Antislavery Movement in Thoreau’s Concord," the editor of "Thoreau In His Own Time," and Thoreau's "Journal 8: 1854," and the co-editor of "The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism" and "More Day to Dawn: Thoreau’s Walden for the 21st Century." In addition, she has published on Herman Melville, Louisa May Alcott, and other American writers and reformers. Her current research includes two long-term projects--a cultural biography of 19th-century activist, author, and editor Thomas Wentworth Higginson; and, with Noelle A. Baker, a scholarly, annotated, digital edition of the complete Almanacks of Mary Moody Emerson. Sandy is also the Director of the NEH Summer Institute on "Transcendentalism and Social Reform."