Student Stories: Adult student finds his niche with agricultural systems major

For Michael Bartolomucci, majoring in agricultural systems management in college wasn't his first goal – it wasn't even his second or third. But now, as an adult student, he calls Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences home.

The Pittsburgh native began his college journey when he got out of the military and needed to figure out what he wanted from life. "It was hard to move into another career path," he said. "I was faced with yet another challenge."

In the summer of 2010, Bartolomucci began his studies at Penn State Shenango Valley in agricultural sciences, moving to the University Park campus for the fall 2012 semester

He quickly realized how much agriculture interested him. "I have zero experience in it," he said. "I have driven by and walked through farms, but that's about it."

Originally intending to study engineering, he wanted to start slowly because he had been out of school for so long. His passion for restoration projects as a kid guided him toward the mechanization aspect of agriculture and the ag systems management major.

Bartolomucci's first few semesters of college classes went smoothly, but he had been out of the academic environment for so long that he was uncomfortable.

"It was hard relating to all the students around me every day," the 28-year-old recalled. "I get rolled into the group easily because I look young, but my personal experiences have made it difficult to find a common ground in many ways. The military had an effect – it created a value structure that became engrained in everything that I involved myself in."

Now a senior, he is currently the president of the Adult Learners of Penn State student organization, a role he accepted after finding valuable support from the group during his junior year. "They picked me up, and now I want to reach out to both adults and veterans alike," he said.

"It would be highly gratifying if I could make a difference for even a handful of students like myself."

After his first semester taking his major's core classes, things began to fall into place, and Bartolomucci knew he was where he needed to be. He realized that his beliefs and concerns about the environment, coupled with his education, prepared him to be an open-minded asset to the agricultural community.

"It's never too late to find your niche – no matter when, where you are or what you're doing," he said. "I'm just thankful for the challenges I encountered prior to college and how they've allowed me to adapt more easily to situations with which I have very little familiarity."

For new students, ag systems management is now an option under the biorenewable systems major.

For information about the biorenewable systems major.

 

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Last Updated October 29, 2013