Student Profile: Jonathan Fiorenza

Jonathan Fiorenza grew up with green energy on his mind. Playing baseball and disc golf, he learned to love the outdoors and all its wonders.

“I’ve always thought it was so cool that we could take natural resources and harness them for our own use instead of using them up,” he says. “I love the idea of preserving our earth.”

A resident of West York, Pennsylvania, Fiorenza found HU in his junior year in high school, not through the usual search but simply by seeing a news report about HU getting a grant “something about the government backing up the university.” He thought that was “kind of cool,” so he applied and got immediate feedback from an attentive admissions counselor. An open house “really won me over,” he recalls.

“There’s a real sense of community here,” he says. “I love the way that HU blends with everything around it. It works hand in hand with businesses and groups around it, and I like that.”

Even in his freshman year, as an environmental science major, Fiorenza was preparing for a unique real-world experience, afforded only through his status as an HU student. Fiorenza received Trustee’s Merit Award, which finances the first full year of schooling conditionally, based on good grades and completion of a project.

“It’s obviously an even trade,” he says. “The first year of school for free is wonderful. That wasn’t a hard decision.”

Fiorenza’s project landed squarely in his field testing water samples from a Harrisburg stream for pollution and sediments and plotting them on a map, to determine possible sources of any contaminants flowing into the Susquehanna River and, from there, to the Chesapeake Bay. The project’s culmination is a presentation to Harrisburg City Council.

“I’m going to love to have that on my job applications,” he says. “That’s something HU is so good at preparing you for real life. They don’t just throw a curriculum at you and give you some exams and release you into the wild. They work with you to feel comfortable about what you’re going to go into before you graduate.”

Even in his freshman year, Fiorenza has been looking into a possible internship also in water quality presented by his advisor. “You have to seize the day,” he says. “It’s an opportunity. Why not take advantage of it?”

His HU experience has been “all positive.” Professors “don’t just preach from a PowerPoint and leave it to us.” Advisor Christina Dryden is “always willing to make time for students.” Corporate faculty member Scott Foulkrod takes time “to teach us how to be adults. He gives us advice on being professional and making a way for ourselves.”

Fiorenza expects to graduate in 2016. The son of a mechanic at a bottle-making plant and a homemaker who’s “a mom to all the kids in the neighborhood,” Fiorenza is the first in his family to go to college. HU’s financial assistance, in addition to the Trustee’s Merit Award, includes the Alumni Honorary Award and the Presidential Scholarship that pays for three year of schooling. He’s paying his own way, so HU’s financial assistance is crucial.

“I love being able to make my own way and make a name for myself,” he says. “That’s what gets my head off the pillow every morning, to be as great as I possibly can. I haven’t found my limit yet.”