Student Profile: Brittany Barney

Brittany Barney never believed she’d enjoy a class called “integrative sciences.”

“Our last discussion involved nuclear fusion, and I never thought I would be interested in talking about nuclear bombs and space travel, but it’s actually pretty interesting,” she says. “I got so pumped. We’re talking about technological singularity. I never thought I would have an interest in that, at all, but it’s starting to become one of my favorite classes.”

Brittany is not someone who lets an opportunity pass by, and the Harrisburg University sophomore has found plenty of opportunities to expand her horizons though coursework, internships, projects, and extracurriculars.

The native of Carbondale, PA, discovered HU at a college fair and liked the idea of a small-class atmosphere combined with plenty of chances for experiential learning.

“This was the only school where I could actually see myself walking in the hallways,” she says.

Barney is studying biology, with an eye on medical school after graduating in 2016. Even in high school, the salutatorian of her class was vice president of the medical careers club, and she got a taste of the joys and challenges of medical work by volunteering at the Scranton veterans’ hospital. Many of the patients had no family in the area, and Brittany’s visits brought smiles to their faces.

“It really made me sad, but I loved being there,” she says now. “Just to bring a smile on their face — that’s me. I love to make people happy and smile. It was a bittersweet moment.”

At HU, Brittany has maintained nearly a 4.0 average. She credits her mother, Carla Barney, with instilling a sense of purpose and the desire to keep learning. Her mother didn’t finish college but worked to become a licensed practical nurse, even overcoming setbacks after a devastating car accident on the first day of her new job.

“I definitely learned from her a lot,” Brittany says. “That kind of dedication inspired me to be better at school and study.”

For her first student project, Brittany hopes to study cancer rates in Pennsylvania coal-mining towns. She continues looking for volunteer opportunities at hospitals, and in the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, she shadowed a Wilkes-Barre ear-nose-and-throat specialist in the hospital and at this office. The experience taught her to “definitely keep up on my studying.”

“It takes a lot of hard work,” she says. “I learned that you have to be determined. If you want it, go for it. If you want it that badly, it will happen.”

Brittany hopes to secure her dream internship at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. She admits to being skeptical at first about HU’s requirements to conduct two experiential projects as well as an internship, but she realized that the mandate will give her an advantage.

“It’s three more things I can put on my resume,” she says. “Hopefully, a medical school will recognize this, and it will set me apart from the thousands of other kids that are trying to get into medical school, trying to do the same thing I’m doing. I believe that’s going to happen because I don’t think many people could secure an internship and do projects and research on their own.”

Brittany also dove into HU life outside the classroom. She made friends at HU dances. She has helped organize holiday parties and volunteered for Christmas toy collection and distribution events in and around Harrisburg. Another reason Brittany chose HU � it was the school that offered the most financial aid. HU’s range of assistance recognizes the importance of attracting students driven to succeed, such as Brittany. “Other schools weren’t giving me nearly as much as HU did, and that was a big factor,” she says.

Brittany disagrees with those who equate money with success.

“Success is how happy you are with your life at that moment, if you have any type of regrets,” she says. “If you’re determined and take the opportunities you have, you overcome your hurdles. I feel like that makes you successful. I feel like I’m successful so far. I’m determined to get my degree. I’m studying very hard, and so far, I’ve been successful.”