Annual awards honor Penn State York students, faculty and staff

York announces 2019-20 academic and service award winners
York Academic and Service Awards

Penn State York Academic and Service Award medals.

Credit: Barbara Dennis

YORK, Pa. — Penn State York has announced the academic achievements and service award winners of its outstanding students, faculty, and staff for 2019-20. More than 70 members of the campus community have received awards. The award program normally held in April had to be cancelled given the current social distancing required to stop the spread of COVID-19. Awards will be mailed to recipients over the summer.

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. Mindy S. Gruzin, York, Pennsylvania, is the 2019-20 recipient. Gruzin graduated on May 9, summa cum laude, with a bachelor of science in psychology and a minor in biology. Gruzin was recognized for her outstanding work in the classroom, on undergraduate research projects with faculty, and her efforts on campus to make Penn State York a better place. She has also been awarded a full-ride scholar to Geisinger Commonwealth College of Medicine, and will begin her studies there in the fall.  

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, class of 1983, a Penn State engineering graduate.  Fisher’s family members; Precision Custom Components (PCC), Fisher’s former employer; colleagues from PCC; and friends joined together to create an award in remembrance of Fisher. The award is given in the field that Fisher loved, engineering.  Robert Reynolds, Felton, Pennsylvania, is the recipient.

Ali Kara, of York, Pennsylvania, professor of business administration, was named the as the winner of the Penn State York Advising Award.  The Penn State York Advising Award, given by the campus Academic Advisory Council, was established several years ago to recognize the importance of advising students. This committee operates separately from the teaching award committee.

Kara was commended by an advisee who said, “He [Kara] was there for me at any given time I've reached out to him. He showed up to his office on a day he wasn't on campus.”  Another student wrote that he/she was “reminded of how valuable Dr. Kara’s advice and welcoming demeanor can be for a student. “My last week has been difficult and leading up to spring break, some of my classes had a heavy load. I was able to speak with him and learn from his advice, which was spoken softly and genuinely towards me, a student looking for help.”

Kara was also praised for his work with students intending to transfer from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) to Penn State York.  He was also commended for his efforts to promote the Graham Fellows Program for Entrepreneurial Leadership (Graham Fellows Program) on campus

The Faculty Scholarship of Research 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.  Joy Giguere, assistant professor of history, is the 2019-20 recipient.  Committee members shared that they faced a difficult task this year with such fine nominees.  Giguere's outstanding record of scholarly work convinced the committee to name her the award winner.  “She is truly a wonderful example of the exemplary research work being completed by the faculty at the York campus.

Academic Achievement awards

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 grade-point average (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. Jennifer Bekker, Hanover, Pennsylvania and Olivia LeVan, York, Pennsylvania, are the recipients.

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 recipient is chosen by the biology faculty. Joshua L. Wolgamuth, Dover, Pennsylvania and Madison Winkowski, Red Lion, Pennsylvania, are the recipients.

The Freshman Chemistry Award is presented to a freshman based on outstanding academic achievement in chemistry. Asik Hanif, York, Pennsylvania, is this year’s recipient.

The Penn State Campus York 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. Recipients are Samantha L. Anderson, Parkton, Maryland; Jennifer Bekker, Hanover, Pennsylvania; Savannah L. London, Abingdon, Maryland; Chase Matthews, York, Pennsylvania; Catherine A. Noble, York, Pennsylvania; Ethan H. Quinones, York, Pennsylvania; Ethan N. Ritchey, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania; Cody Southivong, York, Pennsylvania; and Ryan Ward, York, Pennsylvania.

The Evan Pugh Scholar Award is presented to 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. Recipients are Jennifer Bekker, Hanover, Pennsylvania and Lexi A. Schultz, Hellam, Pennsylvania.

The President's Freshman Award is presented annually to full-time undergraduate students who have earned a 4.0 GPA for the first semester of their freshman year of study. Recipients are Supichaya Boonyapakom, York, Pennsylvania; Yu Chen, Guangzhou, China; Logan Z. Coomes, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania; Carson R. DeVoe, Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania; My-Hoa Thi Do, New Oxford, Pennsylvania; Matthew L. Grasty, York, Pennsylvania; Hunter Haggett, York, Pennsylvania; Brynn D. MacDonald, York, Pennsylvania; Kensington Adelaide Pearce, York, Pennsylvania;  E. Miner, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania; Nicholas M. Schardt, Annapolis, Maryland; Elias J. Wetzel, New Freedom, Pennsylvania; Carter A. Williams, Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania; and Zining Yin, Dongying, China.

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 went to Samantha L. Anderson, Parkton, Maryland; Roxanne R. Humphris, Red Lion, Pennsylvania; Jennifer B. Taylor, Parkton, Maryland; and Nuo Zhou, Fujian, China.

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 Shannon Bolton, Thomasville, Pennsylvania; Taher Erfan, Mumbai, India; Hayley A. Hunt, Delta, Pennsylvania; Olivia A. LeVan, York, Pennsylvania; Aashil S. Matthews, Mumbai, India; Nicholas Nase, Dillsbirg, Pennsylvania; Catherine A, Noble, York, Pennsylvania; Nikolina Nonkovic, York, Pennsylvania; Adannaya Onwukanjo, York, Pennsylvania; Lexi Schultz, Hellam, Pennsylvania; and Joseph S. Romagano IV, Delta, Pennsylvania. Part-time recipients are Jennifer B. Taylor, Parkton, Maryland; and Corey J. Willard, York, Pennsylvania.

The Dr. Harriet Darling Award – Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) 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. Rayven Mitchell, Hanover, Pennsylvania, is the award recipient.

The Professor Orsay Kucukemiroglu Business Award is presented to graduating seniors majoring in business who have the highest GPAs in their major. Jennifer B. Taylor, associate degree in business administration,Parkton, Maryland and Matthew R. Ivey, bachelor of science in business, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 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. Joshua Wolgamuth, Dover, Pennsylvania, is the recipient.

The Student Appreciation Award is given to a faculty or staff person for outstanding service to students. The award recipient is Barbara H, Dennis, coordinator of publications and promotions, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

The Gary L. Collison Community Service Award winners are Victoria Lemmon, Glenville, Pennsylvania and Jason Stacknick, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. 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.

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 recipients are Suzanne Shaffer, instructional designer, York, Pennsylvania; and Joe Royer, assistant director of information technology, adjunct lecturer in information technology, and assistant baseball coach.

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. Cheyenne R. Graham, York, Pennsylvania, is the recipient.

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. Kara James, York, Pennsylvania, is the award recipient.

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.  Gabrielle E. Wolgamuth, Dover, Pennsylvania, is the recipient.

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. Palmer J. Pesta, York, Pennsylvania, is the award recipient.

The Tau Alpha Pi National Honor Society recognizes high standards of scholarship among associate degree engineering seniors. Campus engineering faculty select the award recipients. Joshua B. Nell, Dover, Pennsylvania; Walter Paczkoskie, Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania; and Eric G, Pfeiffer, Red Lion, Pennsylvania, are this year’s award recipients.

Lambda Pi Eta is the honor society of the National Communication Association that recognizes, fosters, and rewards outstanding scholastic achievement while stimulating interest in the communication discipline. All persons considered for membership must exhibit high standards of personal and professional character and support the purposes of the honor society. Recipients of the Lambda Pi Eta Award are Olivia LeVan, York, Pennsylvania; and Nathan Miller, York, Pennsylvania.

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. Nuo Zhou, Fujian, China; and Cynitha Saunders, Wilson, North Carolina, are award recipients.

University Awards

In addition to campus awards, three members of the Penn State York faculty have been honored with University Awards. Jennifer Nesbitt, associate professor of English, won the University College Teaching Award; Jessica Petko, assistant professor of biology, won the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching; and Anne Vardo-Zalik, associate professor of biology, has been named the 2019-20 recipient of the Jack P. Royer Active and Collaborative Learning Award.