Annual awards honor students, faculty and staff

Penn State York announces 2020-21 academic and service award winners
York Academic and Service Awards

Penn State York announces the outstanding academic and service performance of students, faculty, and staff for 2020-21. Although there could not be an in-person ceremony, recipients have received their awards.

Credit: Barbara Dennis

Many Penn State York students, faculty and staff received a surprise in the mail with the announcement of the academic achievements and service award winners for 2020-21. More than 70 members of the campus community have received awards. The award program. normally held in April, had to be cancelled because of COVID-19 and the importance of safety for everyone.

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.  Madison Forbes, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, is the 2020-21 recipient. Forbes just completed her junior year at the York campus and is majoring in human development and family studies with a psychology and early childhood education minor. Forbes was recognized for her outstanding leadership, work in the classroom, and her efforts on campus to make Penn State York a better place. She is the voice of the Penn State York virtual tour, served as president of the Lion Ambassadors, an orientation leader, and a tutor.     

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, 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. Maxwell Wahl, York, Pennsylvania, is the recipient.

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 Megan Lorenz, lecturer in business administration, Lititz, Pennsylvania, full-time award, and Joseph Royer, adjunct lecturer in information sciences and technology, York, Pennsylvania, part-time award.

Megan Lorenz

Lorenz was commended for encouraging students to do their best.  One student said, “Professor Lorenz is always pushing her students to learn more.  She takes the time after class to help students one-on-one.  She gives real-life examples of what we are talking about in class which makes the topics easier to understand.” Another student said, “The class was tough, but she helped me out in so many ways. She stayed late after class to help me figure out my mistakes in homework and to help me understand new information that we learned in class that day.

Another student commented, “She has opened up my mind to the opportunities that Penn State has by having me join Phi Beta Lambda (PBL).  She has changed my perspective on accounting and business that I might be minoring or majoring in it. She is an amazing teacher.“

Lorenz is the adviser for PBL on campus.

Joseph Royer

Royer was praised for teaching relevant and useful information in information sciences and technology and specifically, networking. “He is very good at making information easy to digest and understand,” Another student said, “If you need help, you can basically walk in and ask and he will be dedicated to helping you.

In addition to his part-time teaching role on campus, Royer is the assistant director of information technology at the campus, a full-time job, and the assistant baseball coach.

Academic Advising Award

Sonia Molloy, of York, Pennsylvania, assistant professor of human development and family studies, is 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.

Sonia Molloy

Molloy was praised by an advisee who said, “I see Sonia as one of the most open, caring, and mindful advisers I’ve seen.”  Another student wrote, “Dr. Molloy has been incredibly helpful in my journey.”  Still another student shared, “She has also been there for me when I have been so stressed out, I was considering dropping out of the University.”  Finally, a student noted, “She is always so excited to talk to students about their courses or achievements.  Overall, Dr. Molloy is an incredible adviser that is very deserving of this award.”

Faculty Scholarship and Research Award

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. Amber Seidel, associate professor of human development and family studies, is the 2020-21 recipient. 

Amber Seidel

The committee shared that they faced a difficult decision this year given the outstanding portfolios provided by nominees. Seidel’s active research in the fields of family studies and gerontology has helped to illuminate the links between health factors and various family/relationship outcomes, as well as the impact of religion on family relationships.  With a wide range of collaborative projects and presentations, Dr. Seidel has clearly made significant contributions to her discipline and played an important role in the progression of research in the field.

Academic Achievement

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. Trent Newcomer, Delta, Pennsylvania, is the recipient.

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. Juan A. Sanchez, York, Pennsylvania, is the recipient.

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

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 9 credits of honors work completed.  Additionally, students who complete 24 credits of honors work will graduate with honors. Top graduating seniors in the program are Austin R. Gingerich, Red Lion, Pennsylvania; and Juan A. Sanchez, York, Pennsylvania. Other recipients are Matthew B. Brittain, Dover, Pennsylvania; Logan Z. Coomes, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania; My-Hoa Do, New Oxford, Pennsylvania; Liam Els, Westminster, Maryland; Mark B. Garas, York, Pennsylvania; Asik M. Hanif, York, Pennsylvania; Lee M. Heider, Dover Pennsylvania; Sarah C. Hughes, Dover, Pennsylvania; Sebastian Hunt, Dover, Pennsylvania; Daniel Miller, York, Pennsylvania; Jenna Rowe, York, Pennsylvania; and Jacob Whitacre, 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 Olivia A. LeVan, York, Pennsylvania; Kelsey Ruhlman, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania; Lexi A. Schultz, Hellam, Pennsylvania; and Jennifer B. Taylor, Parkton, Maryland.

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 Mahrah AIDhanhani, Dibba, United Arab Emirates; Amy Bishay, Hanover, Pennsylvania; Mark J. Bogdan, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania; Gaelan Hagler, Glen Rock, Pennsylvania; Victoria Huynh, York, Pennsylvania; Justin Lin, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Zhen Ma, Beijing, China; Megan C. Pitz, Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania; Nicholas A. Trout, Windsor, Pennsylvania; Joshua D. Wagner, Red Lion, Pennsylvania; and Hannah E, Wamsley, Jacobus, Pennsylvania.

The President Sparks Award is presented annually to those undergraduate candidates who have earned a 4.0 (A) 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 givenThe President Sparks Award recipients are Supichaya Boonyapakorn, York, Pennsylvania; Logan Z. Coomes, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania; Hunter Haggett, York, Pennsylvania; Brynn D. MacDonald, York, Pennsylvania; and Elias J. Wetzel, New Freedom, Pennsylvania,   

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 Travis J. Ellis, Windsor, Pennsylvania; Matthew Him, York, Pennsylvania; Sebastian Hunt, Dover, Pennsylvania; Zoe L. Kane, York, Pennsylvania; Logan Leslie, Hellam, Pennsylvania; Jonathan P. Murray, Columbia, Pennsylvania; Steven P. Vanderdonk, Windsor, Pennsylvania; and Joshua D, Wagner, Red Lion, 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.  Danielle Jackson, York, 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. Prenita Ramani, bachelor of science in business, 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. Alexander Herron, Drums, Pennsylvania; Logan Leslie, Hellam, Pennsylvania; and Garrett Mellinger, Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, are this year’s award recipients.

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. Supichaya Boonyapakorn, York, Pennsylvania and Zhen Mu, Beijing, China, 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. Madison Forbes, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, is the winner.

The Student Appreciation Award is given to a faculty or staff person for outstanding service to students. The award recipient is Joel Gugino, a member of the technical service staff, Seven Valleys, Pennsylvania.

Gary L. Collison Community Service Award winners are Kyle L. Brubaker, York, Pennsylvania; My-Hoa Do, New Oxford, Pennsylvania; Madison L. Forbes, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania; and Kara James, Spring Grove, 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 recipient is Sarah Bender, counselor, Leola, Pennsylvania

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.  My-Hoa Do, New Oxford, 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. Alvin Chen, 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.  Sweeta Rasiyan, York, 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.  Richard Smeltzer, York, Pennsylvania, is the award recipient.