The Lion Shrine, covered in several inches of snow, on a gloomy winter day

December 2018: What's happening at Shenango?

In this edition, you will meet Carl Sizer, Dr. Chikkanna Selvaraj, and Gannon Murray; hear the great things happening at our Innovation Hub VenturePointe; and learn about how our students are making a difference in our community.
Vol 1, Issue 2

Meet Carl

Kip Sizer, Carl Sizer, and Candy Sizer at Penn State Behrend graduation in 2011.

Name: Carl Sizer

When did you graduate? May 2011

What was your major? Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Minor in Economics

What campus(es) did you attend? Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

What were you involved in on campus during your time at Penn State? Accounting Club, Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Concert Band. Served as President of Campus Choirs my senior year

What is your favorite Penn State memory? As a student, my junior year the Choir Director of the Campus Choirs was invited to conduct a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City; he brought our groups along to perform with him.  Performing in Carnegie Hall is something that most musicians dream of.  Performing there was an unbelievable experience and one I will never forget.  

As an alumnus, my favorite memory was winning the B1G Championship in 2016.  That championship meant way more than just a win to the Penn State community.  

Why did you choose Penn State? I’ve bled Blue & White since before I could walk.  When it came time to apply to colleges, I had a hard time picturing myself anywhere but Penn State.  

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? My sister and I are fortunate to have a close relationship with all of our grandparents.  A WWII Veteran/Silver Star recipient and General Contractor, a homemaker, a teacher/guidance counselor, and life-long small business owner.  They taught us invaluable lessons growing up, and continue to make lasting impressions on us as adults.   

One surprising fact about yourself: I have played trumpet since the fifth grade, but senior year of high school, at the Director’s request, I switched to tuba for marching band.  It was a challenging experience and one I almost gave up on.  It ended up being the most fun I’ve ever had playing an instrument.

Where are you now? Family life, Location, Career, etc.: After graduating from Penn State Behrend, I began working as an auditor at a public accounting firm in New Castle, PA.  After working in public accounting for 6 years, I decided to make the switch to industry, and now work in the Finance Department at the Primary Health Network as the Assistant Controller.  I’ve lived in Sharon since returning to the area after graduation.  

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? Earning my Certified Public Accountant license

Why would you recommend Penn State to future students? The power of the Penn State network is one of the strongest in the world.  The opportunities and connections that a Penn State education and degree can provide are endless, and continue to amaze me.  I wouldn’t be where I am today, personally or professional, without Penn State and the support from the Penn State network. 

Any advice to current/future students: Enjoy your time at Penn State while you are there.  I remember really looking forward to graduating so I could start my career.  I think there are a number of Penn State alumni that would love to go back to college and have that experience all over again.  Don’t take the experience for granted!  

Anything else you would like to share: If you’re a student reading this – make every effort while you’re a student at Penn State to get to a White Out Football game and sit in the student section.  It should be at the top of everyone’s Penn State bucket list.  Win or lose, you’ll remember the experience forever.  

Meet Dr. Selvaraj

Dr. Chikkanna Selvaraj

I joined the Shenango Campus faculty as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics in 1987 after receiving my Ph.D., from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio.  After six years, I earned my tenure and promotion at Shenango campus. In the past thirty years, I have split my time mostly between teaching and research. I have published several peer-reviewed articles in mathematical journals in the fields of Summability Theory and Approximation Theory. 

I teach all upper-level and lower-level math courses offered at the Shenango campus. My aim is to develop students’ understanding of mathematical concepts and to help them think analytically.  In addition to my academic responsibilities, I have held the position of the faculty advisor for the Student Chapter of Mathematical Association of America (Math Club) which I started at Shenango Campus in 1989.

Without any doubt, my love for teaching Mathematics keeps me going all these years, but my decision to stay at Shenango is mainly due to Dr. Fred Leeds, the former CEO of our Campus. His inspiring leadership and friendliness made my journey here a pleasant one.

Being a native of Shenango Valley, I often run into my former students outside the campus. My proudest moments are being greeted enthusiastically by the students whom I taught two or three decades ago! Knowing that they remember my math classes is gratifying and  seeing them use their math skills in their careers is very rewarding.

A very few outside the mathematical community may know about what is called Erdős Numbers.  The Erdős Number describes the Collaborative Distance between the famous mathematician Paul Erdős and another person, as measured by authorship of mathematical paper. I co-authored with Jósef Szabados and József Szabados coauthored with Paul Erdős. So, my Erdős number is 2.

In my spare time, I enjoy playing Chess and solving Rubik’s cube, Ken-Ken and Sudoku.

Meet Gannon

Headshot of Gannon Murray

Name: Gannon Murray

Major: Business

Graduation Date: 2022

Do you plan to finish your degree at another campus? Not too sure what I want to do right now, the opportunities here are great.

Why did you choose the Shenango campus? Had a chance to pursue my Business degree and to play basketball and to take advantage of an opportunity that Coach Smith has brought to my attention.

What are you involved in on the campus? Lion Ambassadors

What are you involved in outside of campus? Basketball

Why do you love Penn State Shenango? Great people here and the environment and city is great.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? Winning our second home game against Penn State Allegheny for the start of our conference in our first year back.  

Who has made an impact on your life personally or on campus? Why? Coach Smith, because without him I wouldn't have even been given the opportunity to make any of this happen. He recruited me to come play so i'm just taking advantage.

Have you benefited from Philanthropy? I have not.

Where do you see yourself after graduating from Penn State? Not too sure right now.

One surprising fact about yourself: I love making people happy and benefiting their life.

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to future students? So many connections and to be at Penn State Shenango is a great fit, and you can be yourself and so many opportunities here.

Any advice to future students? Stay focused, don't give up on your dreams and keep pursuing


Joy Cone administrator discusses the multiple dimensions of human resources

John Davidson of Joy Cone Co.

John Davidson spoke at the eCenter@LindenPointe to Shenango VenturePointe and business students on Nov. 1, 2018.

Davidson began his 34-year career at Sharon Regional Health System in 1981 as the Assistant Director of Personnel. He became Vice President of Human Resources in 1988 and remained with the hospital until 2015.

Since 2015, he has been the Director of Human Resources/Chief Human Resources Officer at Joy Cone Co., Hermitage, PA. Joy Cone is the world’s largest ice cream cone manufacturer. The company which is celebrating 100 years in business is based in Hermitage, PA. Joy ConeVe has a second manufacturing location in Flagstaff, AZ.  Also, Joy Cone recently acquired BoDeans Baking Group which is based in LeMars, Iowa.

Davidson spoke of the multiple dimensions that human resources serve in corporations. He described how today, human resource managers take an active role in the strategic planning and decision making within their organizations. Leading organizations recognize that they can achieve a sustained competitive advantage through its people. Davidson gave practical examples as he spoke about all areas of human resources at Joy Cone, from recruitment, to training, and development. He spoke about the importance of retaining and motivating employees in the process. Skills that are vital to managers of all levels are in their abilities to engage with people in an effective way to help steer the organization towards successfully achieving their strategy and goals. These skills include maintaining a strong understanding of the external economic and socio-cultural factors that affect one’s business. An example he gave was in Joy Cone management understanding and respecting the different cultures and priorities of people working in Joy’s Hermitage, PA, plant versus their Flagstaff, AZ, manufacturing plants.  He broached topics from healthcare to social media and to the current challenges present.

Davidson discussed the challenges and opportunities graduating students will face when it comes to today’s human resource management environment. These challenges exist both for those who will become HR managers and for all who work in many other functional areas of business as managers and as top executives.

He responded to many questions by the students including the question, “why have you been in human resources for your entire career?” To this question, Davidson replied, “Because I like working with people and I like that no two days are ever the same.”

Public speaking classes focus on the community

Recently the CAS 100B classes, taught by instructor Tiffany Petricini, were tasked with preparing for and carrying out a community service project.  There are three sections of CAS 100B, and each section chose a different non-profit organization to support.

One of the classes decided to Pie Your Pals & Profs. Students, faculty, and staff could sign up to either have a pie thrown at them or to throw a pie at someone. They charged $1 per pie and raised $150.00. All proceeds were donated to Tails of Hope, Farrell, PA. This amount will cover the cost of three procedures and three rabies vaccines. Tails of Hope is a non-profit, low-cost spay and neutering clinic that opened just over a year ago.

The second section of the class organized a campus Rummage Sale. They collected items from Nov. 26-Dec 3.  Once the items were collected, they sorted them and set up a rummage sale where all items cost only $1. They were able to raise $206 and the proceeds will be donated to the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter, Hermitage, PA.  The shelter is a no-kill shelter that falls under the direction of the Mercer County Regional Council of Governments.

In August, the summer section of CAS 100B supported the HopeCAT organization and raised funds at local farmers markets, flea markets, and the VFW sale.  The class raised $200 to further HopeCAT’s mission to advance adult job training and youth involvement in the arts in the Shenango Valley. 

THON Spaghetti Dinner

THON will hold it's annual Spaghetti Benefit Dinner on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, from 5:00-7:30 p.m. in the Penn State Shenango Auditorium. Pre-sale tickets will be available for purchase starting on Monday, January 7, in the Student Affairs office or from members of THON.  Prices for pre-sale tickets are as follows:

  • $8 for adults
  • $6 for kids 4-12 years old
  • $6 for senior citizens (65 and older)
  • $6 for current students with Penn State ID
  • Kids 3 and under are free

Pre-sale tickets will be available until Wednesday, January 30, and then tickets will be available for purchase at the door on the night of the event. A take-out option will also be available. Can't make the dinner but still want to support the fundraiser? The club is seeking donations of items for the dinner including salad dressing, Parmesan cheese, plates, plastic wear, napkins, and they are also seeking items to raffle off as part of their basket raffle. For more information, contact Jammie Clark at 724-983-2838 or [email protected].

VenturePointe Big Idea Challenge Contest

Text that reads VenturePointe, venture forth

“What’s your Big Idea?” Challenge
Have an innovative idea?
Have an idea that will solve a problem that you have identified?

Penn State Shenango, through its VenturePointe Incubator at the eCenter @ LindenPointe, is holding its inaugural “What’s Your Big Idea?” Challenge and would like to invite all Shenango campus students to participate. If your idea is chosen, you could receive up to $500 towards your new start-up, as well as personal mentoring through the campus’s VenturePointe incubator, the eCenter @ LindentPointe, and the Penn State Initiative project.

Who’s eligible to participate in this first round?  All Penn State Shenango students, faculty, and staff.

Your idea can be:  a New Product or Service or an Improved Product or Service. It can be a For Profit Business or a Not for Profit Agency or Organization. It can be Research Oriented or a Community Engagement Initiative.  

How do I submit an idea?  (Phase I) Complete the Contest Form available in the Student Affairs office located in Sharon Hall room 103 and on the VenturePointe board in the Great Hall. Return your completed form to the Student Affairs office by February 1, 2019.

What happens after submission?  The VenturePointe committee will review all submissions and select five winners who will move on to Phase II. (Depending on the number of submissions this number may fluctuate.)

Why Participate?

  • It will look good on your resume and will make great conversation during an interview.
  • It will develop your communication and presentation skills.
  • It will ignite your entrepreneurial mindset to help you advance in your career.

What do Phase I winners receive?   

  • Personal assistance to perfect your “pitch.”
  • An opportunity to pitch your Big Idea in the Great Hall and become the first winner of the
    Penn State Shenango “Big Idea Challenge.”**
  • A chance to attend a four week Idea Test Lab at VenturePointe to see if your idea is viable.

**Contestant’s pitch and this contest will emulate the popular CNBC broadcast, “Shark Tank.”

If you are chosen as this year’s “Big Idea Challenge” winner, you will also have the opportunity, if you choose, to advance your idea and be eligible to:

  • Compete in various other Penn State University wide Pitch Contests which offer Big Prizes.
  • Receive personal entrepreneurship mentoring while you work towards making your Big Idea pitch a reality by incubating at the Penn State Shenango VenturePointe suite.
  • Join the VenturePointe accelerator program to refine your idea and receive $500 to advance your new start-up.


Our monthly newsletter includes articles about the unique things our faculty are doing to engage students in their classes; our highly motivated staff, as well as those who have given years of service to the campus; and our amazing students. We will also be taking an opportunity to recognize our generous benefactors, whose monetary gifts continue to increase our scholarship endowments and have a direct impact on making a Penn State education affordable.

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