Student Profile: Karyn Lozada
It was a birthday Karyn Lozada will never forget.
Torn between possibly having to leave her family to attend college and staying close to home to further her education, Karyn needed a sign.
“I got accepted at Harrisburg University on my birthday,” says Karyn. “That meant something to me.”
It also affected Karyn’s mother, but not positively. “She didn’t like it at all at first. Growing up in a Hispanic family, you realize how important family is,” recalls Karyn. “She wasn’t sure this would be the right move for me, being on my own for the first time and everything.”
Karyn, a second-year student at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, had to not only overcome her mother’s objections but also reconcile her own emotions of leaving her hometown of Philadelphia.
“My mom’s my best friend, and I also have lots of long-time friends,” says Karyn. It was a simple recruiting letter from Harrisburg University that first piqued Karyn’s interest in traveling west. Her search for a college was all but directed toward the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. It was close to home, and that suited Karyn and her family just fine.
But the letter from Harrisburg University spoke to something even more important to Karyn. “It’s a small school, with a science and technology focus,” explains Karyn. “I’d read about other schools, bigger schools, and I wondered if they could provide the personal attention I wanted.”
Her first visit to campus virtually clinched it for Karyn. “I fell in love with it.” Officially, though, Karyn still had a few obstacles. “My two older siblings had started college, but never finished. My mom wanted to be sure that if I went, I would finish,” says Karyn.
As if on cue, Karyn would wake up in the middle of the night with one thought: Harrisburg University could fulfill her goals. Through these dreams and Karyn’s persuasion that she was independent enough to make it, Karyn’s mom eventually was convinced that Harrisburg was the place to go.
As for what to major in, an unspeakable tragedy crystallized the decision. “My cousin was murdered in Puerto Rico in 2002,” Karyn says. “The pursuit of justice was a long time in coming. This was very unfair.” Determined to help bring justice to the victim’s family by helping other families, Karyn chose Forensic Science as her major. “Having a job in this field, I will be able to help bring closure to victimized families of crimes . . . give them answers they deserve.”
Excellent grades in high school earned Karyn the Presidential Scholarship, an award that will pay for her sophomore, junior, and senior years. It also made her eligible for the Trustee Scholarship–which earned her a series of not-so-relaxing interviews with Harrisburg University officials. “My first interview was with Tim Dawson (Director of Admissions),” says Karyn, laughing. “Right away, the head of admissions. It actually went very well.” So well that Karyn won the Trustee Scholarship, which is paying for her first year.
With her education paid for, Karyn pursues her goals with gusto. She takes a full course load of six classes Monday through Thursday, then works at a local restaurant four days a week.
The transition to college and life away from home has gone better than expected. A week before the school year began, Karyn joined the Fellowship Program, a mentor-support initiative aimed at helping first-year students at Harrisburg University acclimate to college life, from the classroom, to interacting with professors, to dorm living. “I have made some great friends through the Fellowship Program, and have benefitted from the relationships I’ve built with some of the professors,” says Karyn, who cites professors Albert Sarvis and Christina Dryden among Harrisburg University faculty members who have helped to smooth what is typically a bumpy road.
If there’s one faculty member who’s provided that reliable shoulder on which to lean, it’s Harrisburg University Assistant Director of Student Affairs Kim Bowman. “Kim Bowman has taught me about life and leadership,” says Karyn. “She really cares about a person’s life. . . . I can always call her.”
All this has been immeasurably helpful to Karyn as she’s made the adjustment to life away from home. “I miss being away from my friends, especially my mom,” says Karyn. “But she’s really proud of me, she’s happy for me.”
Those feelings motivate Karyn as she moves toward her goal: her doctorate, then a master’s degree in psychology. But, first things first.
“I graduate in 2016, and I want to take advantage of everything Harrisburg University has to offer,” says Karyn. “I really enjoy my classes, especially ‘Creative Mind,’ but there’s just so much more.”
“Harrisburg University is so diverse, with so many talented students. Little by little, we’re building a family.”