Class of 2016: Meet Olivia D’Annibale (Biology)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Olivia D’Annibale:

olivia d'annibale1

Major: Biology, Molecular & Biochemistry option

Minor: Sociology

Hometown: Erie

On choosing to major in Biology: I chose Biology because I wanted to go to medical school. In my sophomore year, I quickly realized that I had a major fear of blood, hospitals, and needles, so being a doctor wasn’t going to work for me. I stuck with Biology, though, because I took a genetics class and absolutely fell in love with it.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’ve been involved in undergraduate research since my freshman year. I received a Council of Fellows Undergraduate Student Research Award to work with Dr. Michael Campbell in his molecular lab doing research on potatoes and their reaction to a sprout suppressant. Dr. Campbell and I submitted a paper to the American Journal of Potato Research and I just got the news that the paper is officially published online. (Read it here.)

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’m always carrying a Starbucks cup in my hand, but I actually hate coffee; it’s hot chocolate.

In service to others: I’ve always wanted a career that would allow me to help others, so I was pretty upset when I realized that I wasn’t going to be a doctor. I think that’s why I have enjoyed being involved with the Random Acts of Kindness club. We do things for people without wanting anything, even a thank you, in return. I’ve enjoyed being a resident assistant for the same reason.

On gaining confidence and wisdom: I’m not the same person I was when I came to Behrend four years ago. I was a very shy, timid, 18-year-old who thought she had it all figured out. Now, I’m a confident, 21-year-old who knows she doesn’t have it all figured out and that it’s perfectly OK. I’m not afraid to take life head on. I’ve grown so much here. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to try new things. I thought I was going to hate the sociology course I took in my first semester of college, and I ended up minoring in it! Some of my best experiences in college have been when I initially felt the most uncomfortable.

Olivia plans to attend graduate school following her graduation in May. In the future, she hopes to be a genetic counselor and help those dealing with genetic diseases and concerns.

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