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PA Virtual Alumni- Where are They Now?

Katrina Lynn Whetsel

Katrina Lynn Whetsel

Katrina Lynn Whetsel graduated from PA Virtual in 2009 and capped off her educational experience by singing at graduation which was held at Hidden Valley Resort in Hidden Valley, PA. Katrina began her music career at 14 like most other vocalists – by singing her favorite cover songs. Cyber school gave her the flexibility to spend time in the studio while also finishing high school. After graduating from PA Virtual, Katrina went to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and received her BA in digital design. One of the best aspects about a cyber education according to Katrina was the how she learned independence and personal responsibility. She found her teachers always went above and beyond to give students the tools and guidance needed to prepare for college. We caught up with Katrina and asked her a few questions about how life has been since PA Virtual and what advice she has for current students!

PA VIRTUAL: What are you up to now? Tell us about your post-college life!

Katrina: Aside from my music, I work for an online t-shirt company as a graphics applicator. Basically, this means I make some of the items we sell, as well as assist each department helping to ensure quality products are being brought in and shipped out to customers. I'm also working on my own business from home called K-Tee's Shirt Shack. I design and make t-shirts and other products, as well as offer services like photo restoration, advertising designs, and photography. Recently, I was a part of a listener contest for KVGI, a big country radio station in Texas, where I won six times in a row based on listener votes. Because of this, my songs are in the station's permanent rotation. Later this year, I will take part in the Hoedown in the Holler country music festival sponsored by WFLE in Kentucky. The most exciting news I can share about my music is that recently I was contacted by producers from “The Voice” about possibly appearing on the show – that’s all I can say for now, but it is an exciting possibility!

PA VIRTUAL: What advice would you give to this year’s graduating seniors?

Katrina: My biggest piece of advice for this time in your life is to follow your dreams! After graduation, things start to move fast and “being an adult” comes pretty quickly, but this is a time where you are still going to be learning a lot about yourself. You will have a lot of outside forces trying to push or pull you in different directions.
You truly can do anything you want as long as you work hard and keep true to yourself. I've accomplished a lot of things I was told are not physically possible to do by pushing negativity away and working hard. Do those things and you will without a doubt make your dreams come true!

PA VIRTUAL: What is the most important thing you have learned from your years in college?

Katrina: The most important thing I learned in college is that the only person who can make things happen for me is me. There is an endless world of opportunity out there; you just have to go for it!

PA VIRTUAL: Is there anything else you would like to share with PA Virtual students?

Katrina: I wish all of you the best in whatever you decide to do in life! Never give up on your dreams no matter what obstacles you face! You can check out Katrina’s music on YouTube, Facebook and Soundcloud.

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PA Virtual Grad in Ghana

An Essay by Elias Harkins, Class of 2013

When I graduated from PA Virtual in 2013, most people called me Eli, or if they wanted to use my full first name, Elias. This year, though, I found that I have a completely different name unknown to my parents or me. To learn this new name, I had to travel 5,000 miles from my hometown of Hershey to the wonderfully welcoming African country of Ghana.

I should first begin with what brought me to Ghana. After graduating from PA Virtual in 2013, I became a student at Messiah College, a small liberal arts college in Grantham, PA. There I am a junior in the biopsychology program, a major that combines several of my favorite topics, which are the sciences of biology and psychology. It also utilizes my love for the way diverse topics can be brought into synthesis. The field of biopsychology fundamentally delves into how our biology can impact our psychology and vice versa.

This major was not simply chosen for curiosity, but also for passion. It wasn’t until I completed my Graduation Project, a job shadowing experience with a physician at Hershey Medical Center, that I realized medical school was truly for me. Along with my major, I also needed more experience in the medical field in order to follow this passion.  I am very fortunate that my father is a physician at Hershey Medical Center, and that is affiliated with a program called the Global Health Scholars Program. It was through this program that my father was traveling as a faculty member to Ghana to teach physicians there about surgical procedures. In February, 2016, I was the very special extra piece of baggage he brought.

I had an absolutely amazing time immersing myself in the Ghanaian culture, as well learning a wide variety information about their medical system, including watching live surgeries! I was able to eat local food including fried plantains, freshly picked coconuts, and dried cocoa beans (perfect for someone from Hershey!!).  I went to markets and even purchased a shirt which my photo attached to this article celebrates!  I was able to learn some words in the local Twi language like Akwaaba which means “hello” or “welcome.” I also learned my Ghanaian name.

Ghanaian names are often assigned based on the day of the week on which you were born, your age in relation to other siblings, and the circumstances of your birth. As someone born on a Sunday, as the first child in my family, and as a premature baby, my name would be Kwasí Píésíe Nyaméama!  I encourage everyone reading this to look up his or her own name and to read about Ghanaian culture.
Me daa si!  Thank you!

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Student Recognizes Math Teacher in the "My Favorite Teacher Contest"

My Favorite Teacher Contest

Ninth grader, Robert Putnick wrote a “Thank You” letter to his math teacher Jennifer Burke and submitted it to the “My Favorite Teacher Contest” hosted by Barnes & Noble. Participants in the contest will have the opportunity to read their essays at celebrations at their local Barnes & Noble store. Mrs. Burke has been with PA Virtual for nine years and teaches Algebra, Biology, and Geometry. You can read Robert’s letter to Mrs. Burke below.

Dear Mrs. Burke,
My deepest gratitude for all that you have done for me goes beyond all of the possible words that could be used to describe. Your words of encouragement and support have, no doubt, cultured and improved my love for learning and completing school at home.

There were times when I struggled with a particular subject in Algebra 1, and although it seemed as if there was no solution, you would always provide a video to assuage my fears and show me the right answer. Also, you always encouraged questions and were always willing to give an answer, no matter how those questions may sound to others. In addition, whenever I had any questions regarding a particular problem or skill, I would send you an email and you would reply in what seemed like a moment’s notice. This quick and helpful response from you I grew to trust and rely on when confusion dashed in front of me.

Similarly, you championed me to venture a little out of my comfort zone when you approved my opportunity to take the Keystone exam even before my Math year was complete. Nevertheless, you urged me and said that I was well capable of accomplishing the test. Although I was nervous, I listened to your advice along with my Mom’s, of which both remained ever implanted in my mind as I filled in each and every answer on the exam. When I left the testing site that day, I was still slightly confused with some of the skills that I just could not seem to grasp, but your reassurance and affirmation of my proven knowledge lifted my spirit into a positive tone.

In numerous ways, you assisted me down my path of success in my educational career, and I attribute my present state to your encouragement, along with my Mom’s acts of gently urging me to try each and every possibility available. As a result, my determination has grown exponentially, including in my verbal willingness to always participate, no matter the circumstances. I was often the one who was labeled with the title of being one of the few who attempted something above and beyond, and I am truly grateful when I can share my success with people like you, who have deeply impacted my life for the better.

Your fun and engaging way of teaching helps each and every student learn the particular study a lot easier, and I can certainly speak from experience. In conclusion, your role as a teacher in my life can’t be erased, and I will never forget all of the many things that you have done for my fellow peers, and myself. Your personality is truly motivating and more than worthwhile to emulate. These character traits, I feel, are the ones that sculpt the essential character of a superb and successful teacher, all of which you possess and use for the benefit of every student.

Robert Putnick

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Posted on: April 07, 2016 by Jennifer Kilpatrick in