Students recognized for campus involvement, academic rigor and community service

Year-end Student Recognition Dinner held April 17 at Penn State Scranton
a group of students show off their award certificates onstage at the annual dinner event

Earlier this month, Penn State Scranton's Student Services and Engagement Office held its annual Student Recognition Dinner to honor and recognize students, clubs, organizations, staff and faculty who go above and beyond in their service and commitment to the campus and its community.

Credit: Penn State

DUNMORE, Pa. — Continuing an annual tradition, Penn State Scranton honored students, faculty and staff for their commitment to campus life at the year-end Student Recognition Dinner on April 17, in the View Café. Over 100 people attended the dinner, which recognized students who have distinguished themselves through their campus involvement, academic rigor and community service.

The event was organized and hosted by the campus’ Student Services and Engagement staff: Director Matt Nied, Assistant Director Dharti Ray, Coordinator of Student Activities Nikki Paolicelli and Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Emily Glodzik.

Campus alumna Shanie Mohammed was the keynote speaker for the evening. Mohammed has a bachelor’s degree in business with concentrations in management and marketing and interned for the Scranton LaunchBox, where she helped entrepreneurs develop business ideas and conducted research on solopreneurs.

She currently serves as the director of economic development for the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce, where she develops customized projects, programs and initiatives aimed at creating a positive impact on Northeastern Pennsylvania. She also manages several investment properties in the Poconos and assist in managing her family’s small trucking company.

Mohammed also serves on the board of directors for Dress For Success /Luzerne County, Penn’s Northeast and tecBRIDGE, and is an advisory board member for the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s PAsmart STEM Medical Pathway Program as well as the Scranton Area Community Foundation’s NEPA Thrives Steering Committee.

During her time at Penn State Scranton, she was heavily involved in student engagement, holding multiple leadership positions such as SGA Chief Justice, Lion Ambassador, honors student, THON supporter, Peer Mentor and as an assistant to the chanellor’s office.

Below are a list of all the awards and their recipients. Photos from the event are available for viewing and downloading on Penn State Scranton’s Flickr page.

Student honorees were:

Ashley Torres, a graduating senior, received the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award, which is presented annually to the student who has improved the reputation of the University through extracurricular activities.

Torres also served as a teaching assistant and a research assistant, presenting research findings to the Midwestern Psychology Association.  Torres also served as this year’s THON co-chair, helping to raise over $32,000 on behalf of Penn State Scranton and was one of the campus’ THON dancers. 

Graduating senior Mahek Gandhi was awarded the Patrick J. Rose Award for Excellence in Student Leadership and Service, which recognizes Commonwealth Campus student leaders who have excelled in leadership and service to the campu community.

Gandhi has served as a student leader for the past three years and has served as a peer mentor, orientation leader and in student government. She has also been a student worker in numerous campus departments, was an intern in the Student Services and Engagement department, and was one of Penn State Scranton’s THON dancers.

Abigail Gaebel, another graduating senior, received the Greater Scranton Penn State Chapter’s Pride of Lions Award, presented by retired campus Athletic Director and President of the Greater Scranton Chapter Jeff Mallas. The Pride of Lions award was created by the chapter, a dedicated group of Penn State alumni and friends who share a love for Penn State. It is awarded to a student whose qualities of leadership, scholarship, citizenship and character have positively influenced fellow students, and have contributed to the prestige and well-being of Penn State Scranton.

Gaebel is a graduating senior with a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA) who has served as a peer tutor, a peer mentor and on student government. In addition, she was an active club leader and one of the campus’ 2024 THON dancers.

Rhiannon Costanzo, Keshawn Greene, Gabriela Ventura and Rachel Murray were honored as campus Lion Ambassadors.

Receiving Peer Mentoring Awards were:

  • Raphael Carvalho
  • Rhiannon Depew
  • Justin Dorneman
  • Christian Dructor
  • Abigail Gaebel
  • Julian Giglio
  • Kylie Lynch
  • Matthew McNichols
  • Madison Neville
  • Halle O’Neil
  • Francesca Orellana
  • Om Patel
  • Vidhi Patel
  • Gavin Quimby
  • Jenna Scarfo

This year marked another record-setting year for Penn State Scranton’s THON efforts, where students helped to raise over $32,000, keeping the campus in the Top 10 (at #6) of all Penn State Commonwealth Campuses.

Recognized for their extraordinary efforts with THON 2024 were THON Chair Olivia Maikranz and Co-Chair Ashley Torres, as well as the campus’ three dancers:  Torres, Abigail Gaebel and Mahek Gandhi — who danced for 46 hours straight "For the Kids."

Mahathir Mahbub and River Moon were presented the Unsung Hero Award for their service to campus clubs, organizations, committees or team projects in “quiet, behind-the-scenes” manner but have given significantly of their time and energy and made a significant impact on the University community and boosted courage, spirit and hope in other individuals.

Jermin Gilbert and Josephine Sesay were awarded the Above and Beyond Award, which is given to students who go above and beyond what their leadership role on campus requires. These students served the campus in various positions from club executive board members to student employees, helping projects and events grow and come to fruition.

A new award, That Shake Place Student of the Year Award, sponsored by Career Services Coordinator Jon Tobin’s business, That Shake Place, was presented to Jermin Gilbert. This award recognizes a student that exhibits exemplary leadership skills both in and outside the classroom.

Deana Nieves and Gavin Quimby were awarded the Rising Star Award, which recognizes rising student leaders who have influenced positive change on campus; inspired peers, faculty and professional staff; effectively delegated, communicated and empowered peers; balanced academic life with leadership opportunities; and have a passion for Penn State Scranton.

Alexandra Bouselli, Morgana Costanzo and Jason Webb received the Good Samaritan Award, which is presented to students who exemplify extraordinary concern for others, especially those who are most in need.

Members of several student leadership committees were also recognized and applauded for their efforts. These include:

Student Activity Fee Committee members:

  • Jermin Gilbert
  • Ceiwynn Longworth
  • Kylie Lynch
  • Matthew McNichols
  • Vidhi Patel
  • Gavan Quimby

Student Facility Fee Committee members:

  • Rhiannon Depew
  • Paul Krzan
  • Adam Horan
  • Rushi Patel

Student Senators are students chosen to represent each degree program and the student body in various ways, including serving on various committees; being involved with student government activities and meetings; and proposing and passing legislation were also recognized and honored. They are:

  • Elizabeth Alin
  • Victoria Chomik
  • Briana Dawkins
  • Abigail Gaebel
  • Jermin Gilbert
  • Adam Horan
  • Nicholas Lowe
  • Madison Neville
  • Qussai Odeh
  • Vidhi Patel
  • Gavan Quimby
  • Jessica Reed
  • Makayla Seeram
  • Ashley Torres
  • Alexandra Wardach
  • Andrea Williams

Those student senators who went above and beyond this past year to create the best senate event were also recognized. They are:

  • English program senators: Elizabeth Alin and Nicholas Lowe
  • Biology program senators: Madison Neville and Victoria Chomik

Student clubs are a big part of student life at Penn State Scranton, giving our students the opportunity to pursue personal out-of-classroom interests and providing a multitude of social, cultural and experiential opportunities for those in the clubs as well as the entire student body. Clubs honored were:

  • Anime
  • Billiards
  • Black Student Union (BSU)
  • Business
  • Campus Activities Board (CAB)
  • Cheerleading
  • DREAMers
  • Engineering
  • HDFS
  • Indian Student Association (ISA)
  • InterVarsity
  • IST
  • Lion Ambassadors
  • League of Extraordinary Gamers (LEG)
  • Psychology
  • Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC)
  • Student Organization of Latinos (SOL)
  • Student Nurses Association (SNA)
  • Track and Field
  • THON

Best Startup Club: Bowling Club — recognizes a club which has gone above and beyond to create new opportunities on our campus for students to become more involved in our community and this particular club has worked hard to express their culture within Penn State Scranton.

Comeback Club of the Year: BSU. This award goes to a club that had been inactive, but has been revitalized thanks to the commitment and passion of a dedicated group of students.

Outstanding Educational Program Award: DREAMER’s Club — honors clubs that do a tremendous job with their educational events on campus. From showcasing our diverse group of students, as well as having guest speakers like Sarah Wolfe, and spreading awareness for disability advocacy, this club showcases excellence in educational events on campus.

Most Creative Fundraising Club: Business Club — for putting forth remarkable effort in generating creative fundraising ideas such as a campus thrift store, partnering with local restaurants to raise funds, and making homemade Valentine’s Day bouquets.

Best Outreach Club: LEG — given to a club that has had the best outreach in advertising their events and gaining even more attraction to their club. Such examples of outreach include the use of social media, informative yet creative posters, t-shirts, and the use of campus TV’s.

Best THON Fundraiser: Anime, Cheer, and IST clubs — given to a club that has matched if not surpassed the goal for THON contributions or had finished their contributions effectively and swiftly into the semester.

Best Club THON Contribution: SAAC, SOL and CAB — honors a club or organization that has spread the awareness of THON community wide. Their commitment to THON within both their event and for Purse Bingo have exceeded the expectations of everyone on campus.

Most Creative Club: Business Club — goes to a club that hosted different interactive events, constantly held several unique fundraisers, as well as keeping high interest in their major. Such events include collaboration with the Scranton LaunchBox, Paint by the Numbers, and multiple guest speakers.

Best Collaboration Award: Billiards Club and L.E.G. — for their continuous tournament events throughout the academic year. These two clubs have given a tremendous amount of dedication to both SGA and Penn State Scranton this year.

Excellence in Diversity: Ellisha Haley — honors a student who exemplifies the values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Penn State Scranton upholds by providing an accepting and welcoming atmosphere to students. This award winner achieved all this and more by not only hosting events that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion as their position as a club leader, but also has been an instrumental figure of diversity to the student body.

The Cultural Excellence Award: ISA — celebrates student-led organizations that have demonstrated exceptional creativity, leadership, and impact in enriching culture on campus.

Club event of the year: BSU Spirit Week — goes to a club that show cased an event that was something new within our campus. The Spirit Week hosted by this club embraced the cultural tapestry of our campus by inviting students to try unique cuisine, participate in exciting games and experiences.

The Excellent Service to Students Staff and Faculty Awards: Campus Counselor Sarah Smith and Campus Nurse Jill Thoman. These awards recognize professional staff and faculty members for their excellent service to students, their commitment and devotion to mentoring and caring for students, consistent and extraordinary guidance and professional support, and the special attention and mentoring they provide to others they work with. 

Students also recognized new staff members that, despite being new to campus, have been good mentors and showed caring for students. Students recognized Enrollment Services Specialist Nicholas Tomaskovic and IT Support Specialist Zachary Troy.

The evening ended with Student and Enrollment Services Director Matt Nied formally recognizing the SGA’s executive board and offers for their service over the past year to the campus. Officers recognized were:

  • President:  Aayushi Patel
  • Vice president:  Mahek Gandhi
  • Chief of staff:  Gavan Quimby
  • Chief justice:  Abigail Gaebel 
  • Treasurer:  Celeste Juarez
  • Public relations:  Justin Dorneman

Outgoing SGA President Aayushi Patel then swore in the new slate of SGA officers for the 2024-25 year:

  • President – Gavan Quimby
  • Vice president – Conner Sheruda
  • Chief justice – Brett Gulbin
  • Chief of staff – Aidan Clarke
  • Treasurer – Olivia Lorenzetti
  • Public relations – Paul Krzan