Hannah Petronek

Wheeling, W.Va. Junior, West Virginia University

What is your major and what inspired you to choose it? Biochemistry with a minor in women and gender studies. I realized the affinity I had for chemistry and how easily I was able to comprehend it. Biochemistry came from the fact that I preferred life sciences to technical.

What advice would you offer your high school self? Take it easy on yourself because college is a completely different level of stress than high school. I also should have pushed myself to apply for more scholarships because there really are so many out there.

What is it like being a first-generation student?

The college experience is much, much different. For example, I was responsible for doing all of the paperwork, such as the FAFSA—even going as far to acquire my dad’s tax return information for myself.

In addition, it was quite difficult to know what would be needed. I had no immediate family that was able to teach me how to talk to professors, form study groups, or manage my time wisely.

The biggest struggle I dealt with was feeling inadequate to my classmates. Many of them don’t have to worry about money, and many do not seem to struggle in general education and introductory classes. Their parents were prepping them for college at an early age, while my family was unable to start a college fund for me.

Why did you join First2?

My decision initially began as an extreme interest in traveling to Green Bank Observatory. I remain part of the Network because of the support educators and students continue to give me. They are all the mentors I never knew I needed, and I hope I am able to give back the same amount of support and then some.

Next: Aligning Career with Personality Type