Scranton campus honors its own for volunteerism, leadership and commitment

students on stage receiving their awards

Liz Brandt receives the Patrick J. Rose Award for Excellence in Student Leadership and Service from Matt Nied, assistant director of student services and engagement. At right, Nied presents Kelly Arnold with the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award.

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.

About 120 people attended the dinner, which recognized students who have distinguished themselves through their campus involvement, academic rigor and community service.

Matthew Nied, assistant director of student services and engagement, and Julie Gilpatrick, coordinator of student activities, coordinated the event, which included guest remarks from Penn State Scranton alumnus Michael J. Passiment, a judicial programs analyst for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Harrisburg.

A former campus Student Government Association (SGA) vice president, Passiment encouraged students to strive to be curious individuals, bridge builders and problem solvers in their professional and personal lives. To illustrate that philosophy, he pointed to his efforts to start a Political Debate Club on campus a decade ago.

“That really pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was a great way for me to come out of my shell,” said Passiment, who received his bachelor’s degree in public policy in 2012 from Penn State Harrisburg, where he served as SGA president. (He also received his master’s degree in public administration from Penn State.)

From there, Nied, Gilpatrick and other campus staff members passed out a litany of awards recognizing students for individual and group achievement.

Elizabeth Brandt received the annual Patrick J. Rose Award for Excellence in Student Leadership and Service, which recognizes outstanding achievement by an undergraduate student who has completed at least two semesters at Penn State Scranton. 

Kelly Arnold accepted the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award, which is given to the student who has most improved the reputation of the University through extracurricular activities.

Kalei Kowalchik, who could not attend the event, was the recipient of the Penn State Alumni Association Greater Scranton Chapter’s Pride of the Lions Award.

Gene Grogan, director of business services, and Melissa Labuda, assistant teaching professor in human development and family studies (HDFS), were the recipients of the Excellent Service to Students Staff and Faculty awards, respectively.

SGA President Monique Robinson presented the organization’s awards and installed its new officers, among them President-Elect Emily Scarfo.

In her remarks, Robinson noted SGA’s three main goals for this school year — increasing opportunities for student advocacy, increasing the group’s visibility and increasing campus pride. SGA undertook several successful projects during the year, she said, including: donating 112 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the NEPA Youth Shelter; coordinating the Random Acts of Kindness goodie bag giveaway during finals week; and facilitating the establishment of the Black Student Union, Lending a Helping Paw, LGBTQA+, Science, and Weight Lifting clubs.

“We have continued the tradition of building relationships with each department on campus to advocate for students and improve student life,” Robinson said.

Other event highlights included Deborah Johnson, alumni relations and stewardship officer, issuing the humorous and inspiring Oath of Graduation to departing students, and Brad Kovaleski, director of student services and engagement, receiving a rousing ovation and a cake for successfully defending his doctoral dissertation earlier that day.

The event’s other award recipients were:

2019–2020 campus THON team: Kelly Arnold (chair), Alex Squatrito, Katie Walsh and Dana Beecroft

Unsung Hero Award: Marissa Boyd and Muskan Verma

Rising Star Award: Tabitha Boyd, Noah Krehel, Bryan Melliand, Emily Schick and Lauren Sciabbarrasi

Above and Beyond Award: Kelly Arnold, Elizabeth Brandt, Stephanie Earle, Kira Opalka, Nichole Paolicelli, Rebecca Remsky and Jack Tora

Good Samaritan Award: HDFS Executive Board

Student Activity Fee Committee Appreciation Award: Tiffany Dukauskas, Dhara Patel, Kushi Patel, Rebecca Remsky, Jenn Smith and Jack Tora

Student Facility Fee Committee Appreciation Award: Jinal Dave, Jessica Duff, Sabrina Gray, Rajvi Kaneriya, Velcy Modi, Shanie Mohamed, Harshal Patel, Monique Robinson and Emily Scarfo

Peer Mentors Appreciation Award: Luke Andrukitis, Ryan Choa, Valerie Demianovich, Stephanie Earle, Sabrina Gray, Magdalene Kish, Kalei Kowalchik, Kimberly Stout-Kramer, Julia Lieback, Hannah Luben, Thomas Miller, Shanie Mohamed, Hang Nguyen, Dhara Patel, Dhrashti Patel and Jennifer Smith

Peer Tutors Appreciation Award: Taylor Bronson, Alexandra Caramelli, Destyni Christiano, Stephanie Earle, Israel Ficcaro, Keegan Ficcaro, Matthew Hayner, Steven Jarbola, Kalei Kowalchik, Katelynn Lake, Dhara Patel, Divyang Patel, Gautam Patel, Matthew Post, Samantha Rutkosky, Shannon Seminario, Madison Simpson, Kyle Wind and Andrew Xanthis

Club Awards for charitable works:

  • Black Student Union — participated in SGA peanut butter and jelly sandwich donation to the NEPA Youth Shelter.
  • Blue and White Society — volunteered at the Steamtown Marathon.
  • Business and Corporate Communications Club — donated over $2,000 worth of holiday decorations and gifts.
  • Campus Activities Board — adopted a child at Dunmore Head Start.
  • Cheerleaders — raised funds for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
  • Diversifying Minds Club — participated in SGA peanut butter and jelly sandwich donation to the NEPA Youth Shelter.
  • Engineering Club — volunteered at One Hot Meal program at St. Stanislaus Cathedral.  
  • HDFS Community Club — volunteered at United Neighborhood Centers (UNC) and St. Francis of Assisi Soup Kitchen; raised funds for the Children’s Advocacy Center; and hosted a winter clothing drive for UNC
  • Indian Student Association — volunteered at a local temple.
  • Information Science and Technology Club — volunteered at St. Stanislaus Cathedral’s One Hot Meal program.
  • LEG Club — volunteered at a local Thanksgiving event.
  • Lending a Helping Paw Club — hosted a service dog event on campus.
  • Lion Ambassadors — coordinated a canned/box food drive.
  • LGBTQA+ — participated in the SGA peanut butter and jelly sandwich donation to the NEPA Youth Shelter.
  • Psychology Club — aided the on-campus food pantry.
  • Science Club — participated in SGA peanut butter and jelly sandwich donation to the NEPA Youth Shelter.
  • Student Nurses’ Association — hosted the annual Pediatric Health event.
  • THON Committee — raised funds for the Four Diamonds Foundation.
  • Weightlifting Club — Greater Scranton YMCA

Excellence in Diversity Award:  Shengyi Yang

Outstanding Educational Program:  HDFS Community Club’s Educational Awareness Series

Best Club THON Contribution:  LEG’s Annual Thanksgiving Gaming Tournament 

Community Impact Award:  HDFS Community Club 

Club Event of the Year:  CAB’s “Diamonds in the Sky” semi-formal

Lion Ambassador’s (graduating or transitioning to another campus):  Veronica Bowen, Leah Byman, Jessica Duff, Sabrina Gray, Matt Hayner, Jake Lidle and Shanie Mohamed

Student Government Awards:

  • Senators for Biology/Science: Kyle Franceski and Nicholas Kremp
  • Senators for Business: Veronica Bowen and Lauren Sciabbarrasi
  • Senators for Corporate Communications: Christopher Davis and Matthew Giombetti
  • Senator for English/Letters, Arts and Sciences : Russel Filip
  • Senators for Human Development and Family Studies: Jinal Dave and Lauren Pacheco
  • Senators for Nursing: Dhara Patel, Victoria Hegedty and Jillian Viercinski
  • Senators for Psychology: Jenn Smith, Taylor Bronson
  • Senators for Change of Location: Kira Opalka and Hannah Luben
  • Senators for Division of Undergraduate Studies: Alex Langel and Aaron Trybula
  • Senators for Information Sciences and Technology: Thomas Miller, Matthew Walsh and Doug Griffiths
  • SGA Executive Board Award recipients:  Shanie Mohamed, Emily Scarfo, Jessica Duff, Shawn Kane and Jack Tora

To see a collection of photos from the Student Recognition Awards Dinner, check out our album on Flickr: