Standout Seniors ’23: Meet Brooke Johnston (Environmental Science)

Penn State Behrend’s Class of 2023 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and all that they have learned and accomplished here at Behrend. Over the next several weeks, we’ll introduce you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technologies, participated in important research projects, and made their mark at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Brooke Johnston.


Major: Environmental Science

Minor: Biology

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: I originally wanted to attend a larger school, but when I toured Behrend I realized that the smaller school environment would give me more opportunities. I really liked the low student-to-professor ratio because I wanted to build meaningful mentor relationships.

On choosing her major: Environmental science is a diverse major that offers a lot of career options after college. I know environmental science majors who are going into geology, law, or construction consultancy.

Her proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’ve had many great opportunities at Behrend, but when it comes to my proudest accomplishment, I think of my personal development rather than awards or research. I’m proud of the way I’ve come out of my shell at Behrend. As a freshman, I was very quiet, scared to ask questions, and hesitant to talk to people I didn’t know. Now, I’ve grown into someone who is confident in herself and isn’t afraid to raise her hand or speak up.

Campus involvement: Most of my extracurricular involvement at Behrend has involved Science Ambassadors. I would recommend Science Ambassadors to any STEM students because the organization pushed me to become more active in the School of Science and to meet new people. I also have been involved in undergraduate research for the biology department since sophomore year, which has been such an important part of my college experience.

What you might be surprised to know about her: I’m a very creative and artistic person. I’ve always loved writing, singing, painting, and dancing. I was in a dance program for jazz and ballet my entire K-12 years, and was in the school choir for six years.

What makes her unique: I’ve loved science and animals since I was a toddler. Beginning at a young age, I would pick up insects, snakes, and anything that moves. I’ve held everything from baby kangaroos (joeys) and binturongs (bear-cats) to Madagascar cockroaches and snails! I’ve also petted a rhino before, which is my go-to fun fact about myself for icebreakers.

Awards: Behrend Outstanding Freshman of the Year Award in 2020 .

Advice for first-year students: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This applies to all majors, but especially if you’re in the STEM fields because it’s important to be curious about everything. Being a scientist means a career full of questions, so start asking them now.

What she is passionate about: I could name many things I feel strongly about, but I’m most passionate about being respectful to nature. Nature is so intricate, and I truly admire the way every part of it fits together like a puzzle.

After her graduation in May, Brooke plans to attend graduate school at Syracuse University and work toward a Ph.D. in the biology, evolution, and ecology track.

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