Student with backpack walks past small Lion Shrine

February 2020: What's happening at Shenango?

In this issue, Penn State Shenango celebrates diversity.
Vol 2, Issue 4

Meet April

April Torrence, director of the Zion Education Center

My name is Dr. April L. Torrence

When did you graduate? I received my degree in the mail in 1997. I did not attend graduation because I knew that I wanted more than an Associates Degree. I did not want to celebrate something unfinished.

What was your major? I majored in Business Administration and returned in 1998 to receive my HDFS certification in Children, Youth, and Family Studies.

What campus did you attend? I attended Penn State Shenango.

What were you involved in on campus during your time at Penn State? My campus involvement was limited to a bible study group and assisting Student Affairs with child care reimbursements for parents with small children.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? My favorite memory was the day Professor Jack Smith, English 15, asked if he could keep my deductive reasoning paper on African American name trends. He was a real stickler and an expert in the field. I was honored that he asked for it.

Why did you choose Penn State? I chose Penn State Shenango, in 1993, after Sharon Steel employees were given a trade readjustment act scholarship to attend after the steel mills collapsed.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? The list of impactful people are too numerous to mention. However, I will keep my answer Nittany Lion focused. Professor Vincent Lisi was God-sent during a very turbulent time in my life. His philosophy course was highly recommended, and I am so glad I made the choice. Mr. Lisi allowed me to take a closer look at my inner strength and recognized my ability to think critically. My self-esteem and self-awareness began to blossom for the first time in my life, at the age of 28.

One surprising fact about yourself: People find it strange that I don’t watch television. I have no interest in picking up a remote control and channel surfing. I can’t afford to waste quality time watching soap operas, movies, reality TV, sports, and other popular sitcoms. My goals and priority list take precedence over entertainment.

Where are you now? For 25 years, I have provided the communities of Farrell and Sharon with high-quality, early-learning opportunities. My academy, the Zion Education Center, opened March 1, 1995 in a two-bedroom bungalow located at 1128 Wallis Avenue. I utilized my Penn State internship (BA 395) to expand my daycare into a group childcare for 12 children at 712 Broadway, both locations were in the City of Farrell.
In 1999, Zion expanded again. Thanks to the late Superintendent Wilbert G. Hadden - who leased the lower level of Greater Mount Zion Church to me - the daycare was transformed into a full-service, childcare facilty with the capacity to educate 45 young children.
Zion relocated to Sharon in 2009 to become a two-story Education Center thanks to the support of Rev. Brian Johnson, pastor of New Light Missionary Baptist Church, Sharon. In 2018, the STAR-4 Academy purchased 602 Roemer Blvd in Farrell from Primary Health Network and restored educational opportunities to the historical site of the former Farrell High School.
Zion has served over 1,000 economically disadvantaged children, employed over 100 residents, and has secured over two million dollars in funding so that local families can obtain high-quality, early childhood education. Zion is the only facility in Mercer County with free, full-time classrooms for infant-toddlers, preschoolers, and pre-kindergarteners. There is also a subsidized, after-school childcare program that provides free supper and opportunities for local college students. Students can earn education awards and scholarships through AmeriCorps, while mentoring school-age children.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Buhl Regional Health Foundation, a contract with Mercer County Behavioral Health, and collaborations with local non-profits, Zion Education Center recently launched our social service division, CYPEN, to help children coping with trauma or other adverse experiences that may disrupt the learning process.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? Proudest moment in my professional life was earning my doctorate from Robert Morris University.

Why would you recommend Penn State to future students? Why? Because it’s a small campus with a big heart.

Any advice to current/future students? I would advise all students to make a commitment to become a lifelong learner. It’s impossible to lead 21st century students with 20th-century knowledge!


Meet Adam

International DJ Adam Cucitrone wearing a baseball cap and a jean jacket

Name: Adam Cucitrone (Aka: DJ ADMC)

When did you graduate? 2009

What was your major? BA in Spanish Language

What campus did you attend? Shenango (05) Behrend (06-07) University Park (07-09)

What is your favorite Penn State memory? All the amazing people and professors I got to meet and learn from. I loved walking around both campuses, listening to music and people watching, trying to guess where they were going or coming from. 

Why did you choose Penn State? I choose Penn State for the wide range of campus locations and educational options. I changed my major about four times and Penn State was able to accommodate all of them.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? There have been many people and professors that have influenced my life both during my time at Penn State and after graduation. The list is long, however, my family, friends, and wife have been the backbone of my support throughout the years. Without them I would not have had the courage to follow my dreams.

One surprising fact about yourself: I still don’t know how to do my taxes.

Where are you now? Family life, Location, etc.: I currently live in Pittsburgh with my wife, Alyson and our child, Meme... who is a cat.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? Over the past five years, there have been many professional accomplishments that I am proud of. However, the most significant would have to be winning my most recent title as The Goldie Awards DJ Battle Champion. Ever since I stared DJing, I had a dream/goal of being involved in an international DJ competition. It feels amazing to have accomplished that.

Why would you recommend Penn State to future students? Even though I no longer work in a field that requires me to use my degree, I would not be where I am today without my time at Penn State. The experience of college life alone shaped me into who I am. My degree allowed me to work and provide a good life for myself long before I figured out my musical path. I would not have been able to find my way without my education and professional experiences.

Any advice to current/future students? If you are still unsure with what you want to do with your life, relax. It took me eight years after graduation before I even started to figure it out for myself. Enjoy this time in your life and take in everything you can. You will be surprised how much it will benefit you down the road.


Meet Mi'Sha

Mi'Sha Savage wearing a demin shirt

Name: Mi’ShaLeigh Savage

When did you graduate? I graduated May of 2016

What was your major? Business

What campus did you attend? Shenango

What were you involved in on campus during your time at Penn State? I was involved in a lot of different clubs and organizations - Drama Club, Student Government (Treasurer). I was both a Lion Leader and Lion Ambassador, and with a tremendous amount of help from friends and advisors, I created S.M.I.L.E. a.k.a Students Making Individuals’ Lives Easier! It was a club based on performing random acts of kindness.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? There are honestly way too many to just pick one! But the memories of the pranks that ensued between myself and Student Affairs are at the top.

Why did you choose Penn State? I initially chose Penn State because I was an adult by the time I chose to gain higher education. I wanted to attend a university that was known for its education but also be able to accommodate the responsibilities I had as an adult.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? Everyone - from staff, faculty, friends, and more. They encouraged me, taught me to look and dig deeper within myself to get where I wanted to be. They made me laugh and supported me through rough times, and just generally made the experience that much more worth it.

One surprising fact about yourself: I’m very much an introvert. But I throw myself into things (please see campus involvement, haha) and speak my mind a lot, so most people have a hard time believing that about me.

Why would you recommend Penn State to future students? I would recommend Penn State to future students because they really strive to make you the best you can be. It’s hard, and tiresome at times, but it’s worth it in the end. WE ARE family, WE ARE one, and WE ARE PENN STATE.

Any advice to current/future students? Try everything, be uncomfortable, learn and grow from the moments that are going to make you feel vulnerable, know your worth and try your best. That’s how you will succeed.