Student Stories: Her long search finally led to toxicology

University Park, Pa. -- From literature to art to science, Penn State offers students a plethora of academic interests, but choosing is never easy. For recent graduate Brooke Osborne, two years of searching led her to the College of Agricultural Sciences, where she excelled in toxicology.

Osborne, the self-proclaimed queen of the undecideds, began her academic career in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. "I signed up for Discover House as a freshman and was introduced to a variety of academic options within each individual college," she said. "I found that I could take a creative approach to finding a major that fit my interests."

After working with advisers, participating in lab groups for undergraduate research and personally investigating her options at Penn State and abroad, Osborne chose to major in toxicology, with supporting majors in Spanish and international studies.

"There are a lot of resources at Penn State that most students don't use to their advantage," said Osborne. "When it comes to choosing your major, it pays to be persistent. You find so much more when you research and are an active participant in your education."

Osborne's persistence led her to Ghana on an expedition to conduct research with a geography professor.

"I contacted her to learn about her research and to find out how to enter the field," she said. "She invited me to Ghana, where I assisted her in conducting an interdisciplinary workshop on ecological and social resilience in small-scale gold mining."

While her experiences abroad helped to refine her academic interests, Osborne credits her toxicology adviser for continually assessing her academic goals and lending support. "He helped me adapt the toxicology program to my interests to specialize in ecotoxicology," she said.

A native of Montoursville, Pa., Osborne currently is pursuing a master's degree at Colorado State University.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010