Student receives medal from chancellor at Academic Achievement Awards ceremony.

Penn State Hazleton student Kai Butler, center, is congratulated by Chancellor Gary Lawler for earning the President's Freshman Award for which a medal is given to qualifying students. Looking on is Director of Academic Affairs Elizabeth Wright, right.

Image: Penn State Hazleton

Penn State Hazleton students honored for academic excellence

HAZLETON, PA. — Penn State Hazleton’s Academic Achievement Awards ceremony honored 230 students for high scholastic achievement on Thursday, May 4. Faculty and staff members were also recognized for excellence in teaching, advising, research, technology integration and professionalism.

Chancellor Gary M. Lawler and Director of Academic Affairs Elizabeth J. Wright presented the awards during the ceremony in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium. Amie Yenser, senior instructor in anatomy and physiology and president of the Penn State Hazleton Faculty Senate, served as faculty marshal.

The following awards were presented to students at the ceremony:

Campus Honors Program: The honors medal is presented to currently enrolled honors students who have met the requirements of the Penn State Hazleton Honors Program, which include grade-point average requirements and the completion of honors coursework each semester. Students are invited to join the program based on demonstrated academic achievement and potential for growth. They enroll in specially designed honors courses, complete honors independent studies projects, and have an opportunity to take part in enrichment activities. This year’s recipients are Bridget M. Baksa, Hazleton; Bernardo J. Becerra, Hazle Township; Adrian Corbin, Brooklyn, New York; Julianne Ernest, Danville; Samantha J. Flohr, New Windsor, Maryland.; Lilibeth Fuentes, Drums; Laurel E. Funk, Hazleton; Michael Horn, Effort; Arjan Nahal, Drums; Christian Nonnemacher, Hazleton; Anais G. Rosario, Washintonville, New York; Sara M. Shane, Lattimer Mines; Jasmin A. Smith, Woodbury, New Jersey; Alexei P. Snytkine, Delaware Water Gap; Zachary J. Stefanick, Drums; Anthony Stianchie, Summit Hill; and Ryan Ward, Drums.

Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award: This award recognizes students from Penn State Commonwealth campuses whose outstanding qualities of character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship have been directed into programs and services that have positively influenced fellow students and have contributed to the prestige and well-being of their campus and hence, to the reputation of the University as a whole. This year’s honoree is Emmanuela Blanc, Brooklyn, New York.

The President’s Freshman Award: This award is presented annually to undergraduate degree candidates and provisional students who have earned a 4.00 (A) cumulative grade-point average based on at least 12 graded Penn State credits. Candidates are eligible for this award if they have not exceeded 35 total credits earned. This award was established during the tenure of University President Eric A. Walker (1956-1970). Recipients include John J. Anderson, Mechanicsburg; Indkaran S. Bains, Sugarloaf; Kai A. Butler, Baldwin, New York; Dustin P. Derstine, Red Hill; Wilson J. Guarnera, Sugarloaf; Patricia M. Hamme, Lebanon, Maine; John J. Hawley, Nuangola; Noah R. Hess, Berwick; Shadane A. Johnson, Bronx, New York; Lauren Matuszkiewicz, Sheppton; Maleek L. Mayers, Parsippany, New Jersey; Hector A. Millan Cotto, Caguas, Puerto Rico; Lauren M. Nietz, Coaldale; Daniella A. Odutayo, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Michael Paranich, Mountain Top; Leigh Ann N. Rusnock, Sheppton; Anusha Sanivarapu, Mechanicsburg; and Leah M. Searfoss, White Haven.

President Sparks Award: This award is presented annually to those undergraduate degree candidates who have earned a 4.00 (A) cumulative grade-point average based on at least 36 graded Penn State credits. Candidates are eligible for this award if they have not exceeded 59 total credits earned. The award is named for Penn State President Edwin Earle Sparks (1908-1920). Earning the award this year are Bridget M. Baksa, Hazleton; Lilly S. Snyder, Jim Thorpe; and Alexander J. Vary, Canadensis.

Evan Pugh Scholar Award: This award is named for Evan Pugh, Penn State’s first president (1859-1864). The Evan Pugh scholars are those juniors and seniors who are in the upper 0.5 percent of their respective classes and have completed at least 48 graded Penn State credits at the end of the fall semester of the academic year the award is given. Candidates are eligible if they have been full-time undergraduate students for at least four semesters prior to selection. This year’s winners are Steven M. Baksa, Hazleton; Maria Magabo, Hazleton; and Paige Steigerwalt, Lehighton.

Scholar’s Lion Award
This award is presented to currently enrolled Penn State Hazleton full-time degree students who have earned the highest grade-point average (minimum 3.8) in their college and have completed at least 45 Penn State credits by the end of the fall semester of the academic year the award is given.

Colleges: Berks — Bridget M. Baksa, Hazleton; Business Administration — Austin W. Farver, Orangeville; Communications — Christian Nonnemacher, Hazleton; Division of Undergraduate Studies — Giovanni L. DiBlasi, Hazle Township; Education — Kelly S. Maloney, Freeland, and Matthew R. Michelin, Hazleton; Engineering — Alexander J. Vary, Canadensis; Liberal Arts — Lilly S. Snyder, Jim Thorpe; and Science — Anthony P. Sidari III, Hazle Township.

Campus Associate Degree Program: This award is presented to currently enrolled Penn State Hazleton full-time or part-time degree students who have earned the highest grade-point average (minimum 3.8) in their program and have completed at least 40 Penn State credits by the end of the fall semester of the academic year the award is given. This year’s recipients are Samantha J. Flohr, New Windsor, Maryland, Medical Laboratory Technology; and Taylor K. Young, Lewisburg, Physical Therapist Assistant.

Campus Baccalaureate Degree Program: This award is presented to currently enrolled Penn State Hazleton full-time or part-time degree students who have earned the highest grade-point average (minimum 3.8) in their program and have completed at least 104 Penn State credits by the end of the fall semester of the academic year the award is given. This year’s recipients are Laurel E. Funk, Hazleton, in Business; Steven M. Baksa, Hazleton, in General Engineering; Moises Brens, Hazleton, in Information Sciences and Technology; and Katharine E. Ray, White Haven, in Rehabilitation and Human Services.

Academic Achievement Award: This award is presented to currently enrolled Penn State Hazleton full-time or part-time students who have earned a cumulative grade-point average of 3.7 or higher by the end of the fall semester of the academic year the award is given. Students earning this award are Monica S. Abdelmalek, Drums; David Acker, Quakertown; Antonella Amato, South Abington Township; John Anderson, Mechanicsburg; Marc A. Andrew, Lehighton; Merhan H. Askandar, Hazleton; Indkaran S. Bains, Sugarloaf; Bridget M. Baksa, Hazleton; Steven M. Baksa, Hazleton; Matthew Balas, Mountain Top; Katlynn M. Balser, Zion Grove; Hunter C. Baran, West Hazleton; Nicole E. Barnes, Susquehanna; Bernardo J. Becerra, Hazle Township; Alan J. Bersavage, McAdoo; Paige M. Bettis, Ringtow; Glenn Blessington, Lords Valley; Moises Brens, Hazleton; James M. Brielmeier, Drums; Joseph Brili, Coaldale; Rodrigo Burga, Randolph, New Jersey; Kai A. Butler, Baldwin, New York; Caleb D. Carpenter, Lehighton; Madison A. Carr, Drexel Hill; Cameron Carsia, Sugarloaf; Luke J. Carter, Jim Thorpe; Jerrika S. Chorba, Bloomsburg; Kaylee E. Chyko, Weston; Carlos E. Colado Jr., Hazleton; Keith B. Cook, Bloomsburg; and Shyan Cousins, Easton; Kaitlyn Curran, Cresco; Mariah A. Curry, Pottsville; Kienan Dalesandro, Zion Grove; Chelsea Darrow, McAdoo; Gary R. DeGloria, Landing, New Jersey; Josiel Delgadillo, Hazleton; Trent G. Dempsey, Weatherly; Rebecca L. Dent, Berwick; Haley R. Deorio, Fairfield, Connecticut; Dustin P. Derstine, Red Hill; Giovanni L. DiBlasi, Hazle Township; Veronica R. DiBlasi, Hazle Township; Rebekah A. Domogauer, West Hazleton; Chad M. Dubosky, Summit Hill; Louis A. Duncan, Sugarloaf; Trevor Durako, Drums; Thaddeus M. Dziedzic, Wyoming; Richard E. Facyson Jr., East Stroudsburg; Austin W. Farver, Orangeville; Jesselyn Fernandez, Hazleton; Katherine Ferrer, Drums; Heather J. Fessler, Hazleton; Cruz A. Finnicum, Drums; Brian A. Fisher, Nesquehoning; Samantha J. Flohr, New Windsor, Maryland; Jonathan R. Fogarty, Hazleton; Shekauria B. Foster, Columbia, South Carolina; Tateyana C. Frazier, Far Rockaway, New York; Gabrielle T. Freed, Tamaqua; Lilibeth Fuentes, Drums; Laurel E. Funk, Hazleton; Derek J. Geake, Wind Gap; George T. Gendler, Mountain Top; Cameron M. Gregory, Bloomsburg; Wilson J. Guarnera, Sugarloaf; Patricia Hamme, Lebanon, Maine; John J. Hawley, Nuangola; Sara Heister, Weatherly; Noah R. Hess, Berwick; Whitney L. Heydenreich, Danville; Samantha L. Hilsher, Williamsport; Kevin A. Hinkle, Weatherly; Patrick Holman, Bloomsburg; Thomas A. Holodick, Hazleton; Robert A. Hopkins, Mountain Top; Alyssa A. Hyduk, Drums; Melissa C. Iman, Zionsville; Erykah Jackson, Fleming, Florida; Terrance L. Jankouskas, Sugarloaf; Ramkumar Jayaveerapandian, New York, New York; Shadane A. Johnson, Bronx, New York; Nathan C. Johnston, Ephrata; Christopher W. Jones, Drums; Tatiana Jones, Lawrenceville, Georgia; Ryan C. Kelly, Weatherly; Christian M. Kintz, Mountain Top; Shane L. Kitzmiller, Wapwallopen; Jason M. Klusewitz, Mountain Top; Samantha L. Koch, Tamaqua; Liane Krajewski, Albrightsville; Alicia D. Kriner, Dallas; Christopher C. Kurdziel, Lehighton; Zachary W. Kyttle, Berwick; Alaina Lengner, Waymart; Siwen Liao, McAdoo; Jared W. Llewellyn, Conyngham; Gregory M. Lyons, Millville; Maria Magabo, Hazleton; Catherine Maher, Freeland; Kelly S. Maloney, Freeland; Zachary T. Markle, Hazleton; Jamie L. Mateyak, Tamaqua; Lauren Matuszkiewicz, Sheppton; Maleek Mayers, Parsippany, New Jersey; Kirstin McCarty, Wyalusing; Alline McDonald, New Orleans, Louisiana; Alexis McDonnell, Philadelphia; Matthew R. Meadows, Berwick; Jhonel Mejia, Hazleton; Matthew R. Michelin, Hazleton; Hector Millan Cotto, Caguas, Puerto Rico; Elizabeth Miller, Jamaica, New York; Nathan Miller, Summit Hill; Saige L. Miller, Lehighton; Arjan S. Nahal, Drums; Jeremy N. Nenstiel, Sugarloaf; Lauren M. Nietz, Coaldale; Christian Nonnemacher, Hazleton; Daniella Odutayo, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Katelyn M. Oldziejewski, Wilkes-Barre; Jonathan Ortiz, Easton; Emma A. Osenbach, Tamaqua; Ashley Paranich, Mountain Top; Michael Paranich, Mountain Top; Benjamin T. Pasukinis, Benton; Trevor Patterson, Hatboro; Taylor M. Pavlick, Shavertown; Austin Perkosky, Freeland; Frederick A. Pfeiffer, Gillett; Melanie V. Phillips, Nanticoke; Caroline N. Pimentel Santana, Hazleton; Miguel A. Polanco, Hazleton; Yessica Polanco, Hazleton; Corentin Prigent, Newtown Square; Katharine E. Ray, White Haven; Ronald J. Reedy, Williamstown; Lori A. Rockey, Danville; Dana A. Rooney, Moscow; Ariana Rosa, Bronx, New York; Anais G. Rosario, Washingtonville, New York; Adam Rusiecki, Blakeslee; Leigh Ann N. Rusnock, Sheppton; Christian E. Rutkoski, Nesquehoning; Anusha Sanivarapu, Mechanicsburg; Erin Schmick, Macungie; Leah M. Searfoss, White Haven; Sara M. Shane, Lattimer Mines; Sheshank Shekar, India; Anthony P. Sidari III, Hazle Township; Jasmin A. Smith, Woodbury, New Jersey; Lilly S. Snyder, Jim Thorpe; Alexei P. Snytkine, Delaware Water Gap; Gregory M. Sobolewski, McAdoo; Ryan T. Sod, Plains; Aleigha C. Sokolowski, Drums; Liberato J. Sperrazza, Exeter; Robert A. Stark Jr., Conyngham; Zachary J. Stefanick, Drums; Paige Steigerwalt, Lehighton; Patrick D. Sweda, Holtwood; Paul Thomas, Arverne, New York; Geran D. Triano, Sugarloaf; Nia Van Brackle, Teaneck, New Jersey; Alexander J. Vary, Canadensis; Amanda Viechec, Hazleton; Alex Vizcarra, Miami, Florida; Andrea Webber, Auburn; Sierra E. Werley, Hamburg; Isaac C. Whitenight, Benton; Olivia J. Witmer, Strasburg; Adrik Woodard, Millerstown; and Taylor K. Young, Lewisburg.

Research Fair Awards
Arts and Humanities
First place: Kimberly Miller, Hazleton, for the project “Effects of anticipated regret on impulsive decision-making underlying texting while driving.” Adviser: Yusuke Hayashi. Second place: Heather Fessler, Hazleton, for the project “Probability discounting, delay discounting, and texting while driving in college students.” Adviser: Yusuke Hayashi. Third place: Aleigha Sokolowski, Drums, for the project “Role of probability discounting and executive function in texting while driving in college students.” Adviser: Yusuke Hayashi.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
First place: Christian Skokowski, Saint Johns; Brett Finkelstein, Sugarloaf; and Marques Pereira, Lynn, Massachusetts, for the project “Design of a soiling detector for utility-scale solar farms.” Adviser: Joseph Ranalli. Second place: Jordan Sypeck, Weston; for the project “Sympatric speciation of cichlid fish in Lake Victoria.” Adviser: Carl Frankel. Third place: Luis Lopez, Garfield, New Jersey; for the project “Does the house cricket (Acheta domesticus) exhibit social learning?” Adviser: Christopher Goguen.

Popular Vote – STEM: Paige Steigerwalt, Lehighton, for the project “Xenotransplantations: The dilemmas behind chimeras with human DNA.” Adviser: Carl Frankel.

Mathematics Olympiad Award: The Olympiad is open to all students, whereas students currently taking Math 140 or higher are strongly encouraged to participate. The group of interested students is given a set of 5 to 8 non-standard problems to work on over a period from 6 to 8 weeks. To facilitate the students’ creativity, faculty involved with the Olympiad introduce the group to some methods/ideas that are not traditionally covered in pre-calculus/calculus courses. Submitted solutions are graded and winners are chosen. First place: Alex A. Vizcarra, Miami, Florida. Second place: Kevin A. Hinkle, Weatherly.

M. Leonard Shaevel Award: This award is presented in memory of M. Leonard Shaevel, who taught physics at Penn State Hazleton from 1967 until his death in 1982. It consists of a cash award and is given to a student with a high grade-point average enrolled in science who best exemplifies the educational values of Professor Shaevel. These values include, but are not limited to, a strong work ethic, persistence, and a commitment to science and scientific inquiry. The winner of this year’s award is Haley R. Deorio, Fairfield, Connecticut.

Lifetime Learning Award: This award is presented to a student whose persistence and dedication to lifelong learning is evidenced by a continued commitment to academic coursework at Penn State. Marc R. Olander, Hazleton, is the recipient.

Faculty and Staff Awards
Penn State Hazleton faculty and staff were also recognized for excellence with the following awards:

Outstanding Teaching Award for Part-time Faculty and Staff: This award recognizes part-time Penn State Hazleton faculty and staff who have demonstrated continued instructional excellence. All staff and part-time faculty who have taught credit courses for a minimum of six semesters at the Hazleton campus and who have not previously received this award are eligible. Candidates may be nominated by students, faculty, administrators, staff, parents and friends of the campus. The award consists of an inscribed plaque and a stipend. This year’s recipient is Christine Ashton, instructor in mathematics.

Penn State Hazleton Faculty Scholar Award: This award honors a Penn State Hazleton faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in research, scholarship, or creative accomplishment. All full-time faculty are eligible for the award. The award consists of a suitably inscribed plaque and a stipend. This year’s honoree is Peter Crabb, professor of psychology.  

Penn State Hazleton Council Teaching Excellence Award: This award recognizes and celebrates outstanding teaching. It was established in 1994 by the Penn State Hazleton Council, the campus advisory board. Candidates for this award may be nominated by students, faculty, staff and friends of the campus. The award consists of a suitably inscribed plaque and a stipend. This year’s award is presented to Justin Nordstrom, associate professor of history.  

George T. Bobby Advising Award: This award is a tribute to Professor George T. Bobby, who taught exercise and sports science at Penn State Hazleton from 1967 until his death in 1989. Professor Bobby is remembered as a conscientious adviser. The award, consisting of a suitably inscribed plaque and a stipend, is given annually to a faculty member whose commitment to academic advising is in keeping with the high standards maintained by Professor Bobby. The award is given to Tammy Spevak, Learning Center coordinator and Student Disability Resources coordinator.

Charles T. Butler Technology and Teaching Award: This award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding application and innovation in the use of computer technology in the classroom. In selecting an award recipient, the committee considers creativity and originality of the project and whether it has had a positive impact on students. The award consists of a suitably inscribed plaque and a stipend. This year’s honoree is Garrett Huck, assistant professor of rehabilitation and human services.

Penn State Hazleton Outstanding Staff Award: This award recognizes Penn State Hazleton staff members who go beyond their duties to help others and do so with a high degree of excellence, professionalism and integrity; contributing significantly to improve the overall college environment and experience. All staff members, full- or part-time, are eligible. Suzanne J. Bahrt, administrative support assistant in Academic Affairs, is the winner of this year’s award.    

Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year: This award recognizes outstanding teaching at Penn State Hazleton. Nominations for this award must come from students. The students then vote to choose the recipient. Amie Yenser, senior instructor in anatomy and physiology, is this year’s award recipient.