Natalie Charnego

Natalie Charnego

  • Hometown: Jersey Shore, PA
  • Major: Animal Science
  • Class of: 2024

Question #1: What inspired you to pursue the major you are in?

My interest in veterinary medicine began in the eighth grade when my fifteen-year-old Jack Russell mix, Bailey, fell ill. Bailey was my best friend, and I knew something was going on when he started to act differently. At his vet appointment, my family and I learned that Bailey's quality of life was no longer enjoyable. He had recently had a tumor in his eye removed, and unfortunately, the disease had spread through his body. When we put Bailey down, the veterinary staff even took a set of ink pawprints for my family as a keepsake. Even through my tears, I was enthralled by how the veterinarian took the time to help us understand the process. She was patient and empathetic, all while being sure to diagnose and care for our pet properly. She conveyed a sense of wisdom and grace with us that lit the fire in me to one day provide patients of my own with this same dignity and respect.

After careful consideration of what major to choose to get me to that goal of providing for future clients and caring for their animals, I fell in love with what Animal Science had to offer. Animal Science provided me with the opportunity to gain all the prerequisites to apply to veterinary school and more. I would be able to understand the management and production side of animal industries and how my career as a veterinarian would benefit animals in those scenarios. Animal Science would provide me with various other outlets if I came to realize that veterinary medicine was not the right fit down the road. It was a major that would provide me with the education that I needed to one day treat patients with the wisdom and grace that I was shown in that moment of losing my furry family member.

Question #2: What has been the best part of your time in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences?

While here at Penn State I have been given a vast number of opportunities. One of the biggest was raising a service dog in training through the “Roar for More” program here at Penn State. Through the classes and professors here in the College of Agricultural Sciences, I was provided with this opportunity to expand my horizons and take on a challenge that would further my education. With the aspiration to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, raising a service dog has provided me with a solid foundation of basic animal needs. I have been able to understand animal behavior in a way that I was unable to have before. Through this experience I have been provided with so much growth and a new perspective on many aspects of life. I will forever be grateful for stepping outside of my comfort zone and through one of the many doors that Penn State has opened for me.

Question #3: What do you wish you would have known as a new student at Penn State?

I think one of the biggest things that would be useful to know is that adjusting to college life is different for everyone. Some students may have a harder time than others, and for some it may seem easy to make the adjustment. It is good to try not to compare yourself to those around you. This is something that can be hard to do in many aspects while at college. You may find yourself questioning why your grades are not as good as someone else's even though you spent so much time studying. You may notice others making friends and finding people at a faster pace. It is important to remember that you are doing what you are able to do and before you know it college will get easier. You will find ways to advocate for yourself, study methods will fall into place, and you will find your home away from home.

I personally had spent a lot of time questioning when I got to school, wondering why I was struggling more than those around me. I did a lot of comparing to my peers. As I became more comfortable and was able to navigate the campus, things began to fall into place for me. The adjustment to college life will happen, and it is not something to get overwhelmed about if it does not happen quickly.