Now completing her freshman year at Susquehanna University, East Islip graduate Dina Palazzolo was inducted into the university’s Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society on April 1, thanks to her impressive 3.5 grade point average.
Located in Selinsgrove, Penn., the small private liberal arts college is attended by approximately 2,600 students. “I absolutely love being here, but I miss home too,” admitted Palazzolo, a member of EI’s Class of 2011. She is majoring in environmental science but has studied a variety of topics to date, from calculus and geology to psychology and women’s studies. “It is a diverse curriculum and I really like having to take all different types of courses. It opens your eyes to all the possibilities available, but regardless I am staying with environmental science.”
Reflecting the university’s strong reputation for civic involvement, Palazzolo is also involved in Susquehanna’s S.A.V.E Environmental Club and plays viola in the symphony. “There are plenty of activities to do on campus,” she said. “Every Wednesday I go to a nursing home and do activities with the elderly.”
Despite the stimulating curriculum and busy schedule, Palazzolo has found that going away to college presents some challenges. “It is extremely different to live away from East Islip or Long Island in general,” she explained. “People in Pennsylvania talk differently, and the community here is much more underdeveloped compared to East Islip. There is a little town, but everything else is more spaced apart than in East Islip.”
She does enjoy the dorm experience, however, and the increased sense of responsibility she has learned. “I like sharing a dorm with my roommate,” Palazzolo said. “Luckily my roommate and I get along really well and we plan to live together again next year. Our personalities mesh and we have the same major, which means we can work together on homework or just help each other with tips and advice. Living in a dorm is much different then living at home but it has taught me a lot. I now have to take care of all my own belongings. I have always been an independent person and being away at college is a great experience and an excellent way to figure out how to live on your own.”
Having spent the better part a year away from East Islip, Palazzolo has had opportunities to reflect on her high school career. “A part of me will always miss EI, but college is so much more. It’s great to make your own schedule – I start at 10 a.m. everyday and finish by 3 p.m! High school was fun while it lasted and I learned a lot there, but it was time to move on…it was time to grow.”
Palazzolo’s advice for current East Islip students and those about to graduate is simple. “It is very important to pick a school that you really like and are happy at. You will be there for four years, so make sure you enjoy being at that school.” She also noted the importance of homework. “I would tell them to be ready to work hard. College homework is manageable but there is much more of it than in high school, especially around midterms and finals when everything is due in the same week.”
Palazzolo also recommended participating in one of the high school’s Career Academies, testifying to the significant positive effect it had on her senior year at East Islip. “The Career Academy is such a wonderful way to experience opportunities that put students at an advantage, taking learning farther than just the classroom,” she said, noting that the Academies reflect a more college-like mode of learning. “Here at Susquehanna University our science labs – 85 percent of the time – consist of going on field trips and experiencing real-world situations,” she gave as an example. “The Career Academy enlivened my senior year and made me want to come to school every day. The students in Career Academy became a family and this made learning easier. Students felt more comfortable opening up instead of being afraid to ask questions. The Career Academy is a great experience and an excellent way to get the students involved.”