How This College Senior Helped Hundreds of Freshmen on Facebook

As online tutors, we love stories of students using social media to enhance their educational experiences. When we heard about a UCLA student who became online-famous in his community for helping others through Facebook, we tracked him down and learned what all the hype was about.

If you check out the class page for any university, you’re likely to find thousands of freshmen asking between-the-line questions that aren’t really answered in the orientation packets they get in the mail: What’s the best chemistry class to take if you’re not in pre-med? Are local air conditioning units allowed in dorms? What Greek organization should I rush?

Students post these questions in the hope that a stranger out in cyberspace has some insight. At UCLA, one senior has taken the concept to a new level.

1f58ba3Winn Hyunh is the fourth-year chemistry student behind the “PenQuin” Facebook account, which has gained meme-like popularity in the Bruins community. He recently received the Chancellor’s Service Award, which honors graduating students who have made unique and significant contributions.

Behind the generic profile picture of a penguin, Winn has made it his mission to equip students with his experiences with financial aid, enrollment, housing, textbooks, orientation and job searching. He conducts research and responds within the hour to hundreds of incoming questions.

We chatted with Winn about the challenges behind being a first-generation college student, making friends at school, and the distracting effects of the internet.

If you could change one thing about your freshman year, what would it be?

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