Penn State York students, faculty and staff recognized at awards ceremony

Person smiling, holding plaques, standing in front of blue backdrop.

Sadie Schantz, poised to graduate in December, is the 2023-24 recipient of the prestigious Walker Award.

Credit: Courtesy of Sadie Schantz

YORK, Pa. — Outstanding Penn State York students, faculty and staff were honored for the 2023-24 academic year during the Annual Awards Ceremony on April 21 in the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center on campus. 

To view more photos from the ceremony, visit Flickr

The Walker Award 

The Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award is the most prestigious student award on campus. This award is given annually to a full-time student who exhibits outstanding qualities of character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship. Each Penn State campus selects a recipient of this award. Sadie Schantz is the 2023-24 recipient. 

“As we anticipate her graduation this coming December, Sadie leaves an indelible mark with an impressive array of student engagement and academic accomplishments," said Jeff Gerstein, associate director of student affairs, as he presented the award. "From her roles as a Lion Ambassador, Women’s Volleyball team member, University Programming Board officer, PSUAC Student Athletic Advisory Committee representative, summer orientation leader, to her part-time job with the admissions team, Sadie's involvement has been remarkable to say the least. Coupled with her outstanding grade-point average (GPA) and consistent dean’s list recognitions, Sadie emerged as an exemplary student at Penn State York.” 

Clark E. Fisher Award 

The Clark E. Fisher Memorial Award honors and recognizes outstanding achievement in engineering by a full-time undergraduate student. The award is named for the late Clark E. Fisher, a 1983 Penn State engineering graduate. Fisher’s family members; colleagues from Fisher's former employee, Precision Custom Components; and friends joined together to create an award in remembrance of Fisher. The award is given in the field that Fisher loved, engineering. This year’s recipients were Jesse M. Coulter, Jordan A. Wolf and Charles E. Wolfe Jr. 

James H. Burness Excellence in Teaching Award 

The James H. Burness Award for Excellence in Teaching is given to one part-time and one full-time member of the Penn State York faculty based on nominations by students and other members of the campus community. The award is named in honor of the late James H. Burness, who died in December 1999, in recognition of his outstanding teaching and service to the campus. This year’s recipients are Mary Ritchey, assistant teaching professor in chemistry, for the full-time award and Mark Williams, adjunct lecturer in mathematics, for the part-time award. 

Academic Advising Award 

The Penn State York Advising Award, given by the campus Academic Advisory Council, was established in 1991 to recognize the importance of advising students. This committee operates separately from the teaching award committee. The 2023-24 recipient of this award is Amber Majeske, associate professor of human development and family studies. 

Faculty Research, Scholarship, and Creative Accomplishments Award 

The Faculty Research, Scholarship, and Creative Accomplishments Award recognizes outstanding achievements in research and/or creative accomplishments within the prior three years in the context of sustained record of scholarship. Sonia Molloy, associate professor of human development and family studies, is the 2023-24 recipient. 

The Academic Achievement Award 

The Academic Achievement Award is given to a student or students in recognition of distinctive academic accomplishments. The award is intended to recognize students who may not have won an award based solely on overall GPA but who may have done a special project or otherwise done outstanding academic work in a particular area. Minimum qualifications include second-year standing by the spring semester of the year in which the award is presented and a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA. Devin Taylor is this year’s recipient. 

The Academic Achievement in the Biological Sciences Award 

The Academic Achievement in the Biological Sciences Award is presented to students earning a bachelor of science in biology or science and completing their degree at Penn State York. Students must be in their final two years of study and have demonstrated excellence in course work, independent studies and/or extracurricular activities related to their field. The award recipients are chosen by the biology faculty. Sydney E. Hettinger is this year’s recipient. 

The Freshman Press Chemistry Award  

The Freshman Press Chemistry Award is presented to a freshman based on outstanding academic achievement in chemistry. This year’s award went to Michael Kern. 

The Penn State York Campus Honors Program  

The Penn State York Campus Honors Program provides challenging opportunities for academically superior students. Those who maintain a 3.3 overall minimum GPA and a 3.2 GPA in their honors courses are recognized for each nine credits of honors work completed. Additionally, students who complete 24 credits of honors work will graduate with honors. Honorees are: 

  • Amy Bishay, graduating senior 
  • Allison Lonkart, graduating senior 
  • Fatoumatta Saweneh, graduating senior 
  • Lewis M. Dukes 
  • Katherine S. Grove 
  • Magnus A. Krissinger 
  • Amanni V. Lozano 
  • Jack O. Miller 
  • Thy Nguyen 
  • Katelyn N. Ottaviano 
  • Gabriel J. Ragland 
  • Brandon T. Ritchey 
  • Ryan T. Smith 
  • Ryan A. Wentz 

The Evan Pugh Scholar Award 

The Evan Pugh Scholar Award is presented to juniors and seniors who are in the upper 0.5% 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. Recipients are Allison Lonkart and Thy Nguyen. 

The President Walker Award 

The President Walker Award is presented to undergraduate students who have earned a 4.0 cumulative GPA based on at least 12 Penn State credits completed during their first semester of admission. Candidates are eligible for this award if they have fewer than 36 Penn State credits earned. During the presidency of Eric A. Walker, 1956-70, and with the approval of the Board of Trustees, the number of awards was increased and in 1960, the President’s Freshman Award, as this award was formerly known, was established to recognize high-achieving first-year students. 

Recipients are: 

  • Jessica T. An 
  • Justin K. Cheetham 
  • Joshua K. Gomes 
  • Seth D. Hoover 
  • Joshua R. Houseman 
  • Michael Kern 
  • Jesse C. Martin 
  • Joshua M. Moran 
  • Madeline E. Riek 
  • Brandon C. Secret 
  • Gelisse M. Seidel 

The President Sparks Award 

The President Sparks Award is presented annually to those undergraduate candidates who have earned a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average based on at least 36 graded Penn State credits completed by the end of the fall semester of the academic year the award is given. The President Sparks Award recipients are: 

  • George M. Keene 
  • David Lin 
  • Caira R. Whitney 

Keystone Honor Society Awards 

Keystone Honor Society Awards are presented to full- and part-time students with the highest GPA at or above a 3.5 in each associate and baccalaureate degree program offered at the campus. Part-time students are eligible to receive the award one time in their major. There are also requirements for the time in the degree. Honorees are: 

  • Steven N. Bruhn 
  • Tyler S. Earnest 
  • Asik M. Hanif 
  • Shane E. Hulbert 
  • Justin Irizarry 
  • Karl Johann 
  • Katy E. Jones 
  • Charlie O. Keller-Golden 
  • Kimaya Mayuresh Khandke 
  • Hannah E. Knight 
  • Alexander L. Kurtz 
  • Allison Lonkart 
  • Alexandria R. Luckenbaugh 
  • Jack O. Miller 
  • Jacob Mosholder 
  • Tanish Tejas Parekh 
  • Gabriel J. Ragland 
  • Daryl L. Ritter Jr. 
  • Alex W. Roppelt 
  • Fatoumatta Saweneh 
  • Ryan D. Snell 
  • Madalynn P. Spyker 
  • Avery E. Volz 
  • Jazmin K. Wallace 
  • Caira R. Whitney 

The Dr. Harriet Darling Award – Human Development and Family Studies 

The Dr. Harriet Darling Award – Human Development and Family Studies is presented to an outstanding student who shows commitment to learning and critical thinking, is compassionate, understands issues and opportunities in the lives of children and families, contributes to and advocates for the well-being of others on campus or in the community, and has shown the most improvement through personal growth. Charles L. Thompson is the award recipient. 

Fetterman Family Human Development and Family Studies Award 

This award is presented to a full-time, third-year student in the human development and family studies major with the highest GPA. This year’s recipient was Kaitlyn L. Martin. 

The Professor Orsay Kucukemiroglu Business Award 

The Professor Orsay Kucukemiroglu Business Award is presented to graduating seniors majoring in business who have the highest GPAs in their major. Kavya A. Shah is the award recipient. 

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Student Award 

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Student Award is presented to the student who best honors the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion as expressed in the campus’ diversity statement:  Penn State York is committed to advancing DEI. We celebrate individual uniqueness and are committed to a culture of inclusion that promotes intergroup dialogue, understanding and respect. A diverse campus community enriches and engages its members and serves as a core component of our educational mission. The recipient will have participated in and promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion related activities on the campus and within the University, as well as in the community-at-large. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher. Logan L. Opitz is this year’s award recipient. 

The Tutor of the Year Award 

The Tutor of the Year Award is presented to the tutor who has made the greatest impact on students who came to the Nittany Success Center for extra help with their course work. Tyler D. Anderson is the recipient. 

The Outstanding Student-Veteran Award 

The Outstanding Student-Veteran Award is given to a student-veteran demonstrating academic achievement, strength of character and commitment to service. The award recognizes an extraordinary student-veteran who has overcome challenges in reaching this academic milestone, has been involved on campus or in the local community, and has helped make a positive difference for students. This year’s recipient is John L. Murphy Jr. 

The Penn State York Student Veterans of America (SVA) Leadership Award 

The Penn State York Student Veterans of America (SVA) Leadership Award recognizes a student-veteran who has been involved with and made significant contributions to the SVA, York Chapter.  The award is given to a student-veteran demonstrating leadership through the SVA, academic achievement, strength of character and a commitment to serve. The award recognizes an extraordinary student, one who has overcome challenges as a student-veteran and advocates or assists others with their integration into non-military settings. 

The award recipient is selected by members of the SVA Club. The winner of this award is Lance Fishel. 

The Tau Alpha Pi National Honor Society 

The Tau Alpha Pi National Honor Society recognizes high standards of scholarship among associate degree engineering seniors. Campus engineering faculty select the award recipients. Lance Fishel received this year’s award. 

The Edward M. Elias Award 

The Edward M. Elias Award is presented to the first- and second-year baccalaureate students moving to a campus within the Penn State system with the highest GPA. Patrick M. Conboy and Blentor Vrella are the award recipients. 

Service Awards

The Student Government Association (SGA) Campus Service Award is given annually to students whose services have benefited the campus. The award recipient is chosen by the student body. Neeraj V. Patil is this year’s winner. 

The Student Appreciation Award is given to a faculty or staff person for outstanding service to students. The award recipient is Joel M. Burkholder, reference and instruction librarian. 

The Barbara H. Dennis Award for Excellence in Club Advising 

This award was named in Dennis' honor in 2023 for her 17 years of service as the adviser to Penn State York Benefiting THON organization and her numerous years of service as the adviser to the Nittany News, the student newspaper. She received the inaugural award. This award recognizes a faculty or staff member for their outstanding work as a student organization adviser. The recipient is selected by the members of the SGA. Nathalie Cabrera and Jess Price are this year’s recipients. 

Gary L. Collison Community Service Award 

The service awards are named to honor the late Gary L. Collison, professor of English and American Studies at Penn State York, whose idea it was to recognize students for their volunteer service. In addition to community service, recipients must have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA. Logan L. Opitz and Thy Nguyen received the award. 

The Unsung Hero Award 

The Unsung Hero Award recognizes a Penn State York faculty or staff member for unselfishly providing outstanding service to the campus and its students, often with limited recognition. Selection is made through student, faculty, and staff nominations. The winner this year is Ali Kara, professor of business administration. 

The Rotary Club Award 

The Rotary Club Award is presented to a student who has completed a minimum of three semesters with a 3.0 GPA and has made significant service contributions to the campus and/or community while a student at Penn State York. Liz Hererra-Reynoso is the recipient. 

The Student Leadership Award 

The Student Leadership Award is presented to an organization or club officer based on outstanding leadership within the organization, achievements while in office, and service as a role model and motivating force within the organization. Rebecca A. Mauck is the award recipient. 

Penn State Alumni Association (PSAA) York County Chapter Award 

Penn State Alumni Association (PSAA) York County Chapter Award is presented to any Penn State York student who possesses outstanding qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service to the campus. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and participate actively in the Blue & White Society and/or Lion Ambassadors. Thy Nguyen and Lawrence Williams are the recipients.