DUNMORE, Pa. — Each year, Penn State Scranton recognizes stand-out students for their academics, campus involvement and community influence at the aptly named Student Recognition Dinner. Various staff members and departments were also recognized and honored.
Over 125 students, staff and faculty attended this year’s ceremony, which was turned into a full-fledged celebration for students, with music and dancing following the formal dinner and handing out of awards.
Tables were decorated with delightful flowers and elegant place settings. Over 20 clubs were represented, including: Student Government Association (SGA), THON, Lion Ambassadors, The Business Club, Indian Student Association, Psychology Club, HDFS Community Club and more.
Matt Nied, assistant director of Student Services and Engagement, and Julie Gilpatrick, coordinator of Student Activities, spearheaded this annual event. Brad Kovaleski, director of Student Services and Engagement, offered his humor and amazing energy throughout the evening as he presented awards, at one point adorning a pink flamingo in his lapel pocket.
As the former SGA leaders stepped down from their positions and new officers were sworn in, it was an emotional time for the students and the staff who have mentored and worked with them over the past year, as their terms have ended and several will graduate and begin their journey outside of the campus.
As Rocio “Ro” Saavedra was sworn into office as SGA president that evening, she reminded everyone why the evening was so special.
“We, as student leaders, work hard all year to serve our school and local community," said Saavedra. "The annual recognition is the one time we are recognized for our hard work. It's the one night every year where we all come together to celebrate the amazing year we've had.”
The following awards were given at the Student Recognition Dinner:
Marwan Wafa, chancellor, presented the Eric A. & Josephine S. Walker Award to Ashli Daley.
Former Director of Student Affairs Patrick J. Rose, presented the Patrick J. Rose Award For Excellence In Student Leadership And Service to Kelly Arnold.
Jeff Mallas, campus athletics director and president of the Greater Scranton Penn State Chapter presented the Greater Scranton Penn State Chapter “Pride of the Lions” Award to Farzana Azizi.
Sandra Feather, director of enrollment management, and Sabrina Gray, Lion Ambassador president, presented recognition awards to the outgoing Lion Ambassadors who were transitioning to University Park or graduating. The honored Lion Ambassadors are as follows:
- Margaux Bonin
- Ashli Daley
- Timothy Hopkins
- Randall Kasorek
- Kristina Rios
- Alexandra Squatrito
- Thomas Yokum
One area in which the campus excelled this year was in fundraising for THON. Nied and Gilpatrick presented and honored the THON chair members and dedicated dancers.
“This year our campus came together and raised over $28,000," said Nied. "This is the most our campus has raised ever! We would like to honor and thank our chairs Rawan Abu-Zaineh and Kelly Arnold for all their hard work and dedication to THON this year.
“We would also like to recognize our two THON dancers Ashley Shuttleworth and James Walker who danced for 46 straight hours. It takes such strength and determination to complete this challenge. Congratulations!”
Unsung Hero Awards were presented to:
- Tyler Blaum
- David Jobs
- Randall Kasorek
- Kim Kramer
- Michelle Lavender
- Bryan Parks
- Samantha Rutkosky
- Alex Squatrito
Rising Star Awards were presented to:
- Veronica Bowe
- Ryan Choa
- Anthony Keith
- Kira Opalka
- Jack Tora
- Paul Trzcinski
- Jim Tuttle
- James Walker
Kovaleski and student Monique Robinson presented Student Activities Fee Committee Appreciation Awards to the following individuals:
- Karan Amin
- Veronica Bowen
- Justin Henry
- Angelia Migliaccio
- Monique Robinson
- Rocio Saavedra
- Jim Tuttle
Student Facilities Fee Appreciation Awards were presented to:
- Rawan Abu-Zaineh
- Elizabeth Brandt
- William Bunnett
- Jinal Dave
- Sabrina Gray
- Katelynn Lake
Nied and Corrine Nulton, undergraduate student adviser, presented Peer Mentors Appreciation Awards to:
- Shawn Kane
- Jillian Kochmer
- Kalei Kowalchik
- Katelynn Lake
- Shanie Mohammed
- Hang Nguyen
- Monique Robinson
- Kayla Rosengrant
- Jennifer Smith
Nied and Daley also presented Club Awards.
“This year, we would like to recognize all our clubs and organizations for their hard work and dedication to community service,” Daley announced. “Our clubs this year volunteered with SGA’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches project, which donated sandwiches made by students to the St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen, and with the United Way’s Adopt a Food pantry, as well as assisted THON in reaching a record-breaking goal.”
Clubs recognized were:
- The Anime Club
- The Blue and White Society for volunteering with the Steamtown Marathon, and collecting and bagging groceries for the Food Pantry at Gerrity’s Supermarket.
- Business and Corporate Communications clubs for volunteering with NET Federal Credit Union.
- Campus Activities Board, which raised funds for St. Joseph’s Center through the Go Joe Bike Ride.
- Cheerleading, which raised funds for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
- Diversifying Minds Club, for volunteering with the Gino Merli Veteran’s Center in Scranton.
- Engineering Club
- The HDFS Community Service Club, which volunteered at the United Neighborhood Center, St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen, raised funds for the Children’s Advocacy Center, and hosted a winter clothes drive for United Neighborhood Centers.
- Indian Student Association
- Information Science and Technology Club
- League of Extraordinary Gamers
- Lion Ambassadors, who collaborated with the Cheerleaders to raise funds for the American Heart Association Heart Walk.
- Music Club
- Psychology Club, which held a fundraising event at the Circle Drive-In to raise funds for Hurricane Relief, and hosted a holiday social fundraiser for United Neighborhood Centers.
- Student Nurses’ Association, which hosted their Annual Free Nittany Lion Children’s Health Fair and served over 100 families in the community; performed blood pressure screenings at the Tobyhanna Army Depot; and volunteered at the Jog for Jude 5K to raise awareness for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Young Legislators Club
- THON, which raised over $28,000 through a variety of fundraisers, including a canning weekend, grocery bagging, pasta dinner, Pocono Raceway, Kickboxing for a Cure, The Scranton-Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, and a Designer Purse Bingo.
Some campus programs also received awards:
- Excellent Diversity Program: Diwali (ISA)
- Best Club Collaboration: Business/Corporate Communication & IST
- Outstanding Educational Program: Opioid awareness (SGA)
- Best Fundraising event: Designer Purse Bingo (THON)
- Best Club THON Contribution: Fight on THON (Blue and White)
- Community Impact: HDFS Community Club and the Student Nurses' Association
- Club event of the year: League of Extraordinary Gamers Thanksgiving event (LEG)
- Club of the Year: Psychology Club
Ashli Daley presented awards to a staff and a faculty member for excellent service to students.
Meg Hatch received this year’s Excellent Service to Students Faculty Award. Hatch is an associate professor of biology and co-coordinator of the science program.
In her nomination, a student wrote: “Dr. Hatch went above and beyond with helping me and other students in the Science program to achieve their goals. It is very clear that she is dedicated to students here at Penn State, and is always looking to improve their education. Many times, she has stopped me and asked me how I am doing and how other students are doing within the biology program because she genuinely cares about the progress of students. She is more than worthy of this award.”
Matthew Nied received the Excellent Service to Students Staff Award. Nied serves as a peer mentor and member of BTMT, New Student Orientation, Student Facilities Fee Committee, and CAST.
A student nominator wrote, “Matt has been the driving force behind me being a very involved student within our campus community, keeping me involved in organizations such as Student Government, THON, and New Student Orientation. The support that Matt has shown me during my time at Penn State has challenged me as a person to become a strong-willed and confident individual that will be a valuable addition to society."
"For the very first time, Matt took about 14 students to Beaumont, Texas to assist residents and organizations who were affected by Hurricane Harvey last year," added the nominator. "He has embodied each aspect of the campus' strategic goals, especially creating a welcoming campus, as he maintains an open-door policy, and makes himself available for any and every student, and increasing student engagement, by pushing students to their fullest potential.”
The SGA also recognized its student senators with Student Government Awards.
“Senators: This year, the Student Senate took on a new role of advocating for students," said Daley. "These students served as the liaison between the student population and the student government executive board. As senators, these students hosted monthly meetings with their program coordinators, as well as the students within their major.”
Student senators honored were:
- Senators for Biology/Science: Kyle Franceski and Nicholas Kremp
- Senator for Business: Shawn Kane
- Senators for Corporate Communication: Christopher Davis and Michelle Lavender
- Senator for English/Letters, Arts, and Sciences: Jessica Duff
- Senator for Human Development and Family Studies: Jinal Dave
- Senator for Nursing: Mathew Acevedo
- Senators for Psychology: William Bunnett and Katelynn Lake
“This year, we have two senators who have dedicated three years of service to the Student Government at Penn State Worthington Scranton," added Daley. "I would like to recognize these senators: Michelle Lavender and Mathew Acevedo: Thank you for your three years of dedication.”
Daley also presented SGA Executive Board Awards:
- Elizabeth Brandt, outgoing vice president
- Nicole Paolicelli, outgoing public relations director
- Monique Robinson, outgoing treasurer/incoming vice president
- Shanie Mohamed, outgoing chief justice
- Farzana Azizi, ouging chief of staff
“Without these next individuals, SGA would not have been as successful as it was this year,” Daley continued. “The first adviser that I would like to recognize is one whose office I continuously pop into to give him a hard time. This award goes to our co-adviser Brad Kovaleski.
“The second individual that I would like to recognize has lifted the spirits of each and every individual that passes through her office. She has been a source of inspiration for all, and for that we couldn’t be any more grateful. Thank you, Julie Gilpatrick."
The final award of the evening went to Nied.
“Finally, our 'Den Dad,'" Daley said. "From taking us all over Pennsylvania for leadership conferences, to taking us to Texas for spring break, this individual has been a source of encouragement to a lot of students here at Penn State. Matt Nied, thank you for all of your support especially this year, and thank you for bringing out the ‘kidult’ in all of us.”
Daley ended her remarks with some wisdom she gained during her years at Penn State Scranton, and praise for her fellow SGA executive board members.
“When I began my journey as president, my quote for the year was to ‘leave a little sparkle wherever you go,’ and I know without a doubt that the tireless meetings, projects, planning and dedication that each and every single one of these girls, and our advisers, endured allowed us to leave our sparkle at Penn State Worthington Scranton. We sincerely thank every single club leader, senator and student who have made our year such a successful one, and we wish the best of luck to the incoming executive board,” she said.
“My advice to all the incoming club leaders is ‘Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence,’ so when you feel as though nothing is going right, keep going and leave your sparkles.”
To see and get copies of photos from the event, go to Penn State Scranton's Flickr album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstateworthingtonscranton/albums/72157671133404428.