Sending a ‘We Are!’ to these Penn Staters

Nittany Lion Hug
Credit: Penn State

As part of our regular “We Are!” feature, we recognize 13 Penn Staters who have gone above and beyond what’s asked of them in their work at the University. 

This week, on behalf of the entire Penn State community, we’d like to say thank you to: 

Karen Beruck, student advocacy specialist at Penn State Hazleton, whose nominator wrote: “Karen took on an additional responsibility teaching a first-year seminar section. Through engaging and interactive lessons, she equipped students with academic and personal skills. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her student's success is a continuation of the work she does as a student advocacy specialist.” 

Allison Counasse, e-communications coordinator at Penn State Behrend, whose nominator wrote: “Allison is the quiet individual in the background who goes above and beyond to ensure Penn State Behrend puts its best foot forward digitally. When I submit web updates, she works her magic to ensure they look professional, they meet Penn State standards and that any links or affiliated pages are updated.” 

Sarah DeWolfe, education program specialist in the Penn State Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center, whose nominator wrote: “Sarah is deeply committed to helping both students and staff members understand financial literacy concepts and better position themselves to make informed decisions. Sarah goes above and beyond to ensure they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and is always doing so with a warm smile.” 

Brandon Hamilton, IT consultant in Undergraduate Education and Enrollment Management, whose nominator wrote: “I’ve often requested Brandon’s help with an IT problem and in every interaction he has solved my problem quickly and calmly, and he helped me learn something new. My stressful energy never fazes him. Brandon is a fantastic colleague; we’re so fortunate to have him on our team.” 

Ellen Gilroy Hanna, assistant director of enrollment marketing at Penn State Dickinson Law, whose nominator wrote: “Ellen recently served as acting director of the marketing and communications department at Dickinson Law while her supervisor was on leave, and she did a fabulous job! Thank you for promoting faculty news and student events in addition to handling the myriad needs of multiple departments. We appreciate you, Ellen!”  

Brenda Kephart, engineering project manager at Applied Research Laboratory, who received multiple nominations. One of her nominators wrote: “Brenda is constantly brightening other people's days, from a friendly smile and hello to wonderful conversation to giving flowers just because. She is always volunteering her time within the community and helping others, and she has a very generous and giving spirit. She truly makes a difference!” Another nominator wrote: “Brenda possesses many attributes that make her stand out, but her level of dedication and positivity are what make her shine. Our division would not be able to do what it does without her.” Yet another nominator wrote: “Brenda will go to any lengths to support the team and she brings so much compassion and care to everything she does both in and out of the office.  She has an incredible work ethic and will always go the extra mile to make sure every event, visit and project is executed to perfection.” 

Maggie Kutz, an undergraduate student in the career studies program at Penn State Harrisburg, whose nominator wrote: “Maggie is the first college field hockey player with Down syndrome. She has been an important member of our first field hockey team at Penn State Harrisburg. She scored a goal in our first weekend of play this season.” 

Brenda Martinez, student advocate specialist in the College of Education, whose nominator wrote: “Brenda provides unconditional, high-quality support to students and makes a positive and successful impact in their academic journey and campus experiences. She identifies individual needs aligning tools and resources that translates into students' well-being.” 

Jamie Robinson, senior assistant director of Residential Dining, whose nominator wrote: “Jamie approaches each day with a positive attitude and her energy is contagious. She plays a pivotal role in hiring staff to support each of our five residential dining units. Much of what she does flies under the radar, but she is such an important member of our team!” 

Kathleen Ruggiero, assistant financial officer at Penn State Harrisburg, whose nominator wrote: “Kathleen is someone we all rely on for her expertise and dedication to our campus and our students. In addition, she recently provided excellent service to a student with uncommon needs and I was impressed by her compassion and care. Thank you, Kathleen!” 

Keriann Smith, programs and events manager in the College of Health and Human Development, whose nominator wrote: “Keriann always serves with a smile and bends over backwards to help alumni and students. Whether it is a large alumni event with individual itineraries, a VIP industry event or a four-person dinner, Keriann gives it her all and exceeds expectations for every event she hosts." 

Mark “Marty” Tinik, production supervisor at the Center for the Performing Arts, whose nominator wrote: “Marty is a calming force at the Center for the Performing Arts. He is the definition of ‘cool under pressure.’ He can handle last-minute artist requests or changes in location without a problem. He is a problem solver and a great coworker!” 

Brenda White, program assistant in Student Affairs, whose nominator wrote: “Brenda has been a key part of the Parents Program since 2010. She is caring and patient when parents reach out with questions or concerns. Her experience in planning events helps to make Parents and Families Weekend and other events the best they can be. Our volunteers love working with her.” 

Thank you Karen, Allison, Sarah, Brandon, Ellen, Brenda, Maggie, Brenda, Jamie, Kathleen, Keriann, Marty and Brenda — and to everyone who helps make Penn State such an incredible community! 

Do you know a Penn Stater who deserves a shoutout? If you do, consider nominating that individual by filling out a short online form