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Recent Biology grad has ‘always had a heart for people who just need a little extra help’

Charity Huggins, biology graduate

Charity Huggins is driven by a desire to help people feel whole. Growing up, this meant volunteering with children who had developmental disabilities to give them the extra help they needed to feel connected and part of a community.

Now, as a recent grad from York College of Pennsylvania who earned a BS in Biology, it’s meant working at a company called Longeviti Neuro Solutions that specializes in neurotechnology and designs cranioplasties, custom-fitting implants to literally make a patient’s skull whole again. “I have always had a heart for people who just need a little extra help,” she says. “I think that’s what draws me to medicine.”

From the time she spent tutoring her peers at York College to the patient-focused outlook she takes at her current job, she’s always made it a priority to support others. But it was the support she herself received at York College that helped her get where she is today.

A non-traditional path

Charity has never been a typical student. After being homeschooled, she took her first college class at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) when she was in sixth grade. She was just 15 years old when she graduated from high school and started on her associate degree the next year.

By the time Charity transferred to York College, she was 18, a typical age for a first-year student, but she was already a junior. Her academic advisor worked with her to make the academic transition as smooth as possible. It was the first of many interactions with professors and staff who genuinely cared about helping her achieve her goals.

“My absolute favorite thing about York College is how honestly dedicated the professors are to the students’ success,” she says.

Charity had plans. She was Pre-Med, she loved science and helping people, and she wanted to make the most of every experience she could. It meant she was crazy busy and at times stressed out. But she knew she could count on her professors to support her. “I think the most important thing for me was how willing they were to help me succeed in both my academic goals and also in becoming the person I wanted to be,” she says.

On the go

Charity kept her schedule full her senior year. She was taking 21 credits, working three jobs, mentoring other students at York College, and doing research for Johns Hopkins. At the same time, she was presenting her research at conferences and in showcases. Her day started before 5 a.m. and ended way too late at night. It was exhausting. But it was also so exciting. And throughout it all she felt the support of the York College community.

“Going to a smaller school you’re really aware of the students around you, and there’s a kind of family formed,” she says. “To have the people who are willing to stand behind you and help push you along is absolutely instrumental.”

Prepared for what’s ahead

The company Charity works for is sending her to a neurological disorder summit in Los Angeles to speak about brain mapping. It feels surreal to her, that they want her to be the one to speak, but she’s prepared partly because of her experience presenting while at York College.

She’s also beginning the process of applying to MD-PhD programs. Her long-term career goal is to become a translational researcher — to take a new drug or technique or procedure from the lab all the way to the patients themselves. She’s dedicated to continuing to help make people feel whole, even as she advances in her career and into a new educational journey.

“We don’t do research in a vacuum,” she says. “We do it because we want to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Learn more about the biology major at York College of Pennsylvania.