Student Profile: Nicole Borrell

The high school years can be a time of introspection.

For Harrisburg University student Nicole Borrell, the questions she asked herself while attending East Stroudsburg (Pa.) North High School “What am I really doing? Why am I here? Is college in my future?” weren’t leading to any epiphany. Or, frankly, any reliable answers.

That is until she took a forensics course in her sophomore year. For whatever reason, Nicole’s educational horizon became much clearer.

The Staten Island, N.Y., native, who had been getting decent grades, suddenly flourished, getting A’s in forensics and elevating her GPA.

She was among a select group of outstanding high school students invited to the National Student Leadership Conference, an annual summer event that provides students with the opportunity to experience life on a college campus; develop essential leadership skills; and explore a future career through exciting simulations, exclusive site visits and interactive meetings with renowned leaders in their chosen field.

“This was a great experience,” Nicole says. “This really motivated me to go to college and reinforced my decision about what I wanted to do for a career.”

But which college was the question.

Nicole, who was 8 when her family moved to Bushkill, Pa., had never been away from home, so choosing a college came down to a somewhat unconventional vetting process.

“I received an application from Harrisburg University in the mail and thought, ‘Why not?’,” Nicole laughs.Nicole Borrell Why not, indeed.

Even though she “had options” for colleges, Nicole visited Harrisburg and came away with very positive impressions of the university and its offerings. “I really liked the city, the environment and the school,” Nicole explains.

“The people I met were very nice; it was a friendly environment, and I knew I wouldn’t be ‘just a number,'” says Nicole. As a sophomore majoring in Forensic Science, Nicole is definitely not a number, but she’s got numbers. Along with carrying a full course load, she is one of four resident assistants of housing on campus. As an RA, Nicole ensures that more than 130 students comply with Harrisburg University policies.

The double duty of work and school suits Nicole well. And it got the attention of the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers, which presented her with an RA Academic Excellence Award for earning a 4.0 GPA while serving as a resident assistant.

Nicole gives a lot of credit for her academic success to her professors. Dr. Samuel Benigni “made algebra and calculus likable,” says Nicole. “I wouldn’t have made it through without his encouragement.”

Nicole credits Dr. Vicki Villone, her professor in public speaking and speech, for giving “me the confidence to get up in front of people and speak.”

Nicole also draws inspiration from Jenna Wilcox, who graduated in 2013 from Harrisburg University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Sciences with a concentration in forensics and is past president of the school’s Forensics Club.

“Jenna has a passion for forensics,” says Nicole. “She made me want to learn more about the field.”

Nicole receives her biggest boost from her family. “My mom and dad and sister are big motivators,” explains Nicole. “They tell me, ‘You can do this, you’re going to be great at it,’ and that just gives me so much confidence.”

As for the future, Nicole, who will graduate in 2016, plans to attend graduate school and explore a career in toxicology. Yet, drawing on her own experience, Nicole knows that reaching this stage and establishing a roadmap can take time. For high school students who are at a crossroads like she was, Nicole strongly recommends checking out Harrisburg University. “Come to an open house,” she says. “You’ll learn that the professors care very much about the students’ welfare and making sure that they not only pass their class but also have successful careers.

“There are so many activities on campus, it really provides ‘the full college experience.’ The atmosphere and people are great.

“I’m very glad I chose to attend Harrisburg University.”