The table and ground of the courtyard are covered in a light dusting of snow. The courtyard is surrounded by Sharon Hall and Lecture Hall on either side.

January 2020: What's happening at Shenango?

Happy New Year! In this issue, we bid farewell to two members of our Shenango family.
Vol 2, Issue 3

Meet Liz

Liz Izenas

Liz's last day on campus is Thursday, January 16. The campus will be hosting a reception in her honor. Liz has become an institution to Shenango and will be deeply missed.

Name: Liz Izenas

What is your role on the Shenango campus? Coordinator of Communications and Community Relations

How long have you been at Penn State? Over 33 years—started July 1986

What are you involved in on campus? I am a member of the Campus Executive Committee; Campus Outreach Committee; VenturePointe Committee; the United Way of Mercer County Campus Campaign Committee; Social Media Committee; and Crisis Management and Crisis Communication Teams.

What are you involved in outside of campus? As coordinator of Community Relations, it has been an honor to be involved in our community getting to know and working with outstanding local leaders, as well as so many selfless volunteers. I currently serve on the United Way of Mercer County (UWMC) Board of Directors, as well as the UWMC Fundraising Committee and Allocation Committee; and the Sharon Economic Development 16146 Newsletter Committee.

Tell us about your education: I received an associate degree in Business with a focus on marketing and management in 1982. When I began working at Penn State in 1986, I continued to take classes toward a bachelor’s in business degree.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? I really don’t have just one—when you work here as long as I have, you have so many, and they will last me a lifetime!

Why do you love the Shenango campus? There are many reasons, but if I had to choose one, I’d say the people. I love the fact that everyone at the Shenango campus, including our Alumni Society and Advisory Board members, truly care about one another, especially our students!

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? My family. . . I have two of the most loving parents anyone could wish for, a husband who has always supported me, and four sisters and a brother, who are always there for me. I also have three wonderful children and one grandson who are the light of my life! My mother once told me a long time ago, don’t ever let anyone or any situation change the person who you are. That advice has helped me throughout my life.

One surprising fact about yourself: I received the “shyest” girl in my senior class superlatives from Sharon High School in 1980.

What hobbies/interest do you enjoy outside of work?  I love spending time with family and friends and snuggling with my Golden Retriever watching old movies. I also enjoy watching our students play basketball and volleyball at the Buhl Recreation Center, since we reinstated athletics at our campus two years ago.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment at Penn State? I’d probably have to say the coordination and implementation of our 50th anniversary celebrations. The experience of working with several of my colleagues to showcase our campus’ growth over five decades was very rewarding. It was wonderful to be able to honor and recognize those members of the community, as well as past faculty and staff members, who helped establish and shape our Penn State campus in this community.  

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to future students? It’s a perfect place to get a great education, receive a nationally recognized Penn State degree, make lifelong friends, and be able to save money while living at home. Our faculty and staff are second to none. We Are Penn State!

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to a future colleague/employee? Well, I think working somewhere for more than 33 years answers part of that question. But seriously, I have felt like I was one of the luckiest people on earth since the first day I started at the Shenango campus. I’ve always been so proud to say that I work here; the same way I feel about living in Sharon. My past and present co-workers, whom I’ve had the opportunity to work, are some of the nicest, hardworking, conscientious people I’ve ever met. And being part of an institution where you see lives positively transform every day through education is a reward that is indescribable.


Meet Mike

Michael Calla

Name: Michael Calla

What is your role on the Shenango campus? I serve on the Campus Advisory Board.

How long have you served on the board? I have been a member of the Advisory Board since the fall of 2017.

Are you involved with anything else on campus? I am not directly involved in other campus activities but our students participate in a number of campus-based events throughout the school year.

What is your role in the community? I am currently the Superintendent of Schools for the Sharon City School District. I also serve on a number of advisory boards in the greater Shenango Valley, which are dedicated to the education of our students.

Tell us about your education: I completed my undergraduate work at Clarion University of Pennsylvania (Clarion State College back then!) earning a bachelor of science degree in Elementary Education. Graduate school consisted of earning my master’s degree in Educational Administration from Westminster College, and most recently, my Letter of Eligibility in Administration from California University of Pennsylvania.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? As an educator, I should reference some wonderful classroom memory, but I do have to say that my favorite PSU memory is being in attendance at the Penn State/Ohio State game in 2016 when Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal 60 yards into the end zone for the winning score! We Are!

Why do you love the Shenango campus? The Shenango campus, though being set in a traditional “downtown,” has the feel of a more rural campus. The open space, trees, and landscaping provide a larger campus feel. The people at Shenango are also so friendly and welcoming.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? There are a number of people who have had a significant impact on my life, but I would have to say that my wife, Mary Beth, has been the most impactful. I have always been a comfort-zone type of person, not willing to stray too far from where my comfort was, but she saw something more in me and encouraged me to chase my career dreams. I would not be the educator or the person I am today without her love and encouragement.

One surprising fact about yourself: Unlike most of the rest of the people in Western Pennsylvania, I am a Minnesota Vikings football fan through and through!

What hobbies and interests do you enjoy outside of your professional life? Outside of work, I enjoy being outdoors doing gardening, landscaping and yard work. I also am a diehard Penn State football fan!

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? Being selected as the Superintendent for Sharon City Schools is by far the proudest (and most daunting) professional accomplishment.

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to future students? Penn State Shenango offers a student the opportunity to earn a degree in a warm, friendly environment. The campus provides a supportive, small college feel with a Big Ten quality education.

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to a future colleague/employee? Penn State Shenango offers an opportunity to work with a diverse student population. From traditional and non-traditional undergraduate students to high school students earning credits through dual enrollment and adult learners attending classes to enhance their lives, an employee of Shenango is exposed to the diversity of people that make the greater Shenango Valley a wonderful place to learn and grow. There is as much opportunity for the employee to learn as there is for teaching.

If you were not working in your current field, what would you be doing? It is hard to believe having spent the past 40 years in the field of education, but my first “college tour” was to a college that offered a degree in horticulture. As I mentioned above, I enjoy the outdoors, gardening and landscaping, and I believe that I would be doing something in that field today had I not become an educator.


Meet Heidi

Heidi Friedrich

Heidi's last day on campus was December 19. During her time at Shenango, she has helped many students find their professional path. We will miss her dedication to our students and to the campus.

Name: Heidi Friedrich

What is your role on the Shenango campus? Career Services Coordinator and Counselor

How long have you been at Penn State? Twelve years in combination – three years at Penn State New Kensington and nine years at Penn State Shenango.

What are you involved in on campus?  In my role as Career Counselor, I provide comprehensive career exploration and professional development counseling. In collaboration with our faculty, I coordinate programs such as the Graduate School Fair, Allied Health Job Fair, Tech Career Expo, Speed Mock Interviewing program, as well as a Business Etiquette Dinner and specialized Professional Development workshops as requested by interested clubs and classes. Recently, I taught an Adolescent Development class, and am a guest instructor in the PSU 08 – Freshman Experience course. 

What are you involved in outside of campus? I belong to the Church of the Good Shepherd and participate in community outreach activities and fundraisers. However, my family is where much of my time and energy is devoted.

Tell us about your education: My master of science degree in Counseling and bachelor of science degree in Mental Health Counseling both were earned from Gannon University. I am a Certified Global Career Development Facilitator and Certified in Child-Centered Play Therapy.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? My father attended Penn State University back in the 1950s and was a PA State Champion Wrestler. He carried on his passion for Penn State throughout his lifetime. He always wanted one of his children or grandchildren to attend Penn State and he lived long enough to see his granddaughter, my daughter, attend Penn State University at the Harrisburg campus.

Why do you love the Shenango campus? Penn State Shenango is a campus where students aren’t just a number, and because of the intimate class size, students gain the confidence to embark in new adventures, take on new challenges, and advance in areas of interest that launch them into careers that are satisfying. Each major has an element of moving students beyond the classroom and allowing each to apply what they learn by participating in internships and clinical rotations. It is always a thrill when the students come back to report on experiences gained through these initiatives.   

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? There is no one particular person, because I am always in awe of the people around me and what talents they share. I have found great joy speaking to my elders and hearing their stories, the challenges they have overcome, and the life lessons they have learned.  

One surprising fact about yourself: Living in the country, one learns how to use a tractor and its front end loader real quickly, especially for snow removal.

What do you enjoy outside of the classroom?  Hobbies, interests, etc.: I have become passionate about learning the craft of fabric art and have found much satisfaction creating unique gifts for family and friends. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? This question is difficult, because there have been so many moments that give me pause. Usually the best moments of professional satisfaction are seeing the accomplishment in others. It happens when a student shares with me an internship or job they have received. It begins with getting to know each student as a freshman and having the privilege to work with them, and then seeing their dreams and accomplishments become actualized.     

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to future students? Penn State Shenango is part of system that extends globally, and yet, locally, has the same caliber of dedicated, smart, and invested faculty, staff, and administrators who want to see our students succeed. Students have unlimited options because of being a part of the Penn State University community.   

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to a future colleague/employee? I have to say I have been very blessed to work at an institution that supports professional ambitions, respects you as a person and as a colleague, and provides the creature comforts and resources to excel at our jobs.

If you weren’t working in higher education, what would you be doing? This question resonates with my role as a career counselor, because we are multi-faceted. I am trained and experienced as a mental health counselor and enjoyed working with children and their families. But, in the golden years of my career I see myself doing more volunteer work and lending support to organizations that may need assistance with their clients crafting resumes and job preparedness.