HomeFeaturesFranklin Towne senior headed to Princeton

Franklin Towne senior headed to Princeton

Photo credit: Matthew Cella

Franklin Towne Charter High School senior Patricia Palanik has been accepted into Princeton University to study veterinary medicine.

Patricia’s passion for veterinary medicine stems from a love for animals and a desire to improve their welfare. She sees this field as a blend of scientific expertise and compassionate care. Patricia aims to open her own animal clinic as well as a nonprofit, no-kill shelter after completing her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

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An Upper Holmesburg resident, Patricia advanced her career goals by creating the ”Presents for Paws” project. The initiative, supporting Philadelphia-area shelters like Lucky Pups Rescue as well as ACCT Philly, collected more than 300 donations, generating collaboration within the school community, while aiding local animal shelters.

“I’ve always been passionate about animals,” Patricia said. “They bring me a lot of joy. It really pains me to know so many are abused, maltreated and slaughtered throughout the world. By becoming a veterinarian, I plan to save many animals’ lives and care for them not just physically but help erase the scars in their hearts from the inhumane treatment.”

Her adviser, Shannon Serafin, said, “Patricia curated a new service partnership with Lucky Pups, creating an opportunity for so many of our members and helping to fill a need for their organization.”

After she completes her undergraduate studies at Princeton under the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major, Patricia plans to attend veterinary school to earn her doctorate degree, with a goal of opening an animal clinic and a nonprofit, no-kill shelter.

Patricia’s attraction to Princeton was influenced by the university’s collaborative environment and its commitment to fostering student growth and success — an experience she says is much like that of Franklin Towne.

The university’s international program is another feature that Patricia finds enticing. She said, “Princeton has a comprehensive study-abroad program that aligns with my plans to travel to South America, where I plan to treat animals in underprivileged communities.”

Patricia’s high school years have been enriched with a variety of extracurricular activities. In her freshman year, Patricia was a member of the science club and photography club as well as the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy. Today, she is involved in Franklin Towne’s Historical Society, Mentor Council, No Place for Hate and Community Service Club. Her leadership skills were further shaped after becoming president of the National Honor Society and while she was the first student representative in 2023 on the school’s Board of Trustees and the student leader of Towne’s Athletic Department. Her athletic pursuits include playing basketball as well as joining Towne’s new flag football team.

“Franklin Towne has empowered me to engage in a highly challenging academic program,” Patricia said. “This experience has significantly improved my time management and leadership skills and has been instrumental in developing my commitment to work hard in all aspects of my life. The opportunities offered by Franklin Towne have played a key role in enhancing my confidence in guiding others in school as well as within my community. This has been vital in helping me to make impactful changes.”

That drive and engagement extends beyond Patricia’s time at school. She also works at an animal sanctuary where she cares for more than 50 animals rescued from slaughterhouses and leads tours to the public. She is also involved in the area’s Polish community, contributing to cultural events and language learning. She attended a Polish school at St. John Cantius Parish for 12 years, where she learned to speak, read and write in Polish, and received the Premier Graduate Award as well as the Most Excellent Student Award from the Polish Embassy in Washington, D.C. That led to her volunteering at Polish festivals where she played piano and guitar. Patricia’s love for Polish culture runs deep as her parents, Jolanta and Krzysztof Palanik, came from the small town of Sieniawa in Poland.

“My parents came to America knowing nobody and no English,” Patricia said. “They worked hard to build a fortunate life full of opportunities for me and my sister, Paula, which I will forever appreciate. They always support my dreams and never fail to believe in me.”

Patricia’s parents’ history instilled within her a goal-oriented outlook and a belief that says, “if you keep your eyes on your dreams and work hard, anything is possible. My parents are the proof.”

School staff played a vital role in her college preparations. Teachers were readily available to assist with essay writing, a critical component of college applications. Patricia particularly acknowledges the support from Serafin and Gretchen Hall, who guide the National Honor Society. Their mentorship extended beyond academic advice, offering personal and emotional support as well. Franklin Towne’s guidance counselors were instrumental in navigating the complexities of the college application process, especially for first-generation college students like Patricia. They offered personalized assistance, addressing any queries and clarifying confusing aspects of the process.

The FTCHS staff is proud of Patricia as a star student and for her acceptance into Princeton.

“Patty maintains constant composure, balancing an intense drive to succeed with an intentional community-building mindset. She is always thinking of ways to improve the National Honor Society and communicating her ideas with myself and Ms. Hall. She has been instrumental in the growth of NHS during her time at Franklin Towne.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to work with her. I cannot wait to keep seeing all the ways she continues to learn, grow, succeed, spread joy and give back,” Serafin said.

Serafin describes Patricia, the Class of 2024 valedictorian, as “fiercely passionate about her academics as well as making an impact.” ••

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