The Lion Shrine with mums in the foreground

October 2019: What's happening at Shenango?

Working our way through the semester! In this issue, we will get to know more about the Shenango family.
Vol 1, Issue 12

Meet Dr. Phil Nash

Dr. Philip Nash, History

Name: Philip Nash

What is your role on the Shenango campus? I am an associate professor of history, but I teach both history and global and international studies. I am also coordinator for our Letters, Arts, and Sciences baccalaureate program and coordinator for our International Studies Certificate program.

How long have you been at Penn State? Twenty awesome years.

What are you involved in on campus? I serve as co-chair of the Heart of Shenango committee, and I am faculty sponsor of our campus History and International Cultures Clubs.

What are you involved in outside of campus? I am a frequent guest on the history podcasts of “Professor Buzzkill,” buster of historical myths (see and on the radio on the Ron Errett Show on WPIC 790.

Tell us about your education: I have a bachelor’s degree in diplomacy and world affairs from Occidental College (I spent my junior year in Germany); a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University; and a Ph.D. in history from Ohio University (go Bobcats!). I also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? Probably the times I have taken students to Washington, DC. We always have a blast.

Why do you love the Shenango campus? I think it’s the perfect blend of big and small: The resources and excellence of a major research university paired with the small class-size and close collaboration of a liberal arts college. And the people here, the faculty, staff, and especially students, are fantastic.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? My wife, who will have put up with me for 25 years this December, and my students, who inspire me every day.

One surprising fact about yourself: I’m from southern California. I graduated from Santa Monica High School, where I ran cross-country (and was terrible. OK, not surprising).

What do you enjoy outside of the classroom? Hobbies, interests, etc.: Travel, NFL, Scrabble, international food…and reading history!

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? Being the first member of the Shenango faculty to receive a University-wide teaching award (Alumni Teaching Fellow Award, 2008).

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to future students? See "Why do you love the Shenango campus?" above!

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to a future colleague/employee? See "Why do you love the Shenango campus?" above! And its tolerance for repetition!

If you weren’t working in higher education, what would you be doing? Probably serving the country abroad in the US Foreign Service.


Meet Allison

Allison Engstrom '09 with family.

It is with mixed emotions that we announce that Allison Engstrom has left Penn State Shenango--her last day was October 4. During her approximately three and a half years at the campus, Allison did a wonderful job raising funds for our campus and building relationships with alumni and friends. In her new position, Allison will be working as the account director for a marketing and PR firm close to her home in Boardman, Ohio. Feel free to wish her all the best at [email protected]

Name: Allison Engstrom

What was your role on the Shenango campus? I was the director of Development and Alumni Relations.

How long were you at Penn State? Approximately three and a half years.

What are you involved in outside of campus? Outside of work, I am busy with my family. I am married and I'm the mother of a one-year old little girl, Layla.   

Tell us about your education: I was a 2+2 student, and I always say that I got the best of both worlds. I spent my first, two years at Penn State Behrend. While there, I met some of my best friends including my husband, Adam. As a junior, I transferred to the University Park campus and graduated with a degree in marketing. 

What is your favorite Penn State memory? As a student, my favorite memories were during football season. I loved going to every game, tailgating with friends and family, and just enjoying the energy inside the stadium, specifically the student section. Today, my favorite Penn State memory is just from a few months ago. Adam and I took Layla to State College to show her everything Happy Valley has to offer. She has no choice but to attend PSU in about 17 years! Additionally, I went to Penn State Behrend with two of my best friends from college and we got to walk around the campus with our families. It made me emotional thinking about how Penn State has really played an important role in my life over the last 15 years...I received a great education, I've met so many amazing people, and I had a fulfilling career at Penn State for the last three and a half years. 

Why do you love the Shenango campus? I love all of the people I have met during my time at Shenango. I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many talented, passionate, driven and kind people. Everyone from my colleagues at the campus, the students, my amazing Alumni Society and the extremely generous donors...the people are what makes it such a special place. 

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? My parents have made a huge impact on my life. My Dad is extremely hard-working, and he has made numerous sacrifices for his family. My Mom is the backbone of our family and is always there for anyone who needs help. 

One surprising fact about yourself: I like to do crafts and recently I've started to make floral wreaths. I made four fall wreaths last month for myself and family members.

What do you enjoy outside of the classroom? Hobbies, interests, etc.:  I love watching sports--Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, etc., baking, traveling and enjoying the awesome restaurants and breweries in the area. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? My proudest professional accomplishment is the success we had with the Open Doors Scholarship program at Penn State Shenango. It required a lot of collaboration with others, which I enjoyed. Overall, I secured $347,000 which received a 2:1 match from the University to create $1,041,000 in scholarship funds. These endowed funds generate about $46,845 in scholarships every year into perpetuity for local students at Shenango.  (Special shout out to everyone who donated to these scholarships. Thank you!)

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to future students?  Shenango is known as the small campus with the big heart. . . having started my degree at a Commonwealth campus, I know the benefit of smaller classes, faculty support, and various opportunities with clubs and organizations.

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to a future colleague/employee? Penn State Shenango makes you feel at home. You will be welcomed with open arms. 

If you weren’t working in higher education, what would you be doing?  If I won the lottery, I would want to work in interior design. I love HGTV. I really enjoy decorating my home and making changes for every season.


Meet Emily

Emily Sever '18

Name: Emily Sever

When did you graduate? May 2018

What was your major? Bachelor of science in biology; genetics and development

What campus did you attend? Shenango and University Park

What were you involved in on campus during your time at Penn State? I was the founder and president of the Science Club (currently known as STEM Club) at the Shenango campus for two years. I volunteered at THON for four years and was also a member of Tribeta Biological National Honor Society for two years.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? From tailgating at football games to dancing for 46 hours at THON, endless memories were made during my time as a student at Penn State. My favorite memory was reuniting with friends at the annual Arts Fest. It takes place every July and all of the students return to the University Park campus. This was always a really great time to enjoy Happy Valley without having to worry about school work.

Why did you choose Penn State? I come from a family of Penn Staters, including my sister, parents, aunts/uncles and grandparents. I went to my first Penn State football game at eight months old and have been involved in the school since before I can remember. I knew that furthering my education at Penn State would be an incredible stepping stone for me towards my dream job, and I was correct. My education thoroughly prepared me for my career and I would recommend Penn State to any driven, goal-oriented person that is shooting for the stars.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? Numerous people have made an impact on my life. My family and friends have immensely helped me achieve my goals, all of my previous employers, as well as my professors at Penn State. Without the support of each and every one of these people, I would not be where I am today. My professors at Penn State did not just teach me during school hours, they worked with me day and night to help me achieve my goals, for which I am eternally grateful. Even after graduating, I still have countless connections with the University faculty.

One surprising fact about yourself: When I became a young adult, a few of my relatives were beginning to suffer from an assortment of illnesses, and at the time I was not sure which field of study I wished to enter. One of the most detrimental events in my life was seeing those I love become sick, so I began learning about diseases on my own time. Eventually, I was reading publications on these rare diseases and became infatuated with the realization that I could contribute to this research one day. I knew in that moment that I wanted to dedicate my career life towards pharmaceutical drug discovery. It is incredibly motivating and rewarding work if you are passionate. One of my biggest goals is to positively impact society and make a difference.

Where are you now? Family life, Location, etc.: I moved across the country from Hermitage, PA, to South San Francisco, CA, “the Birthplace of Biotechnology.” I was born and raised near the East Coast, so transitioning to the West was bittersweet. I only see my family a few times per year, which has been my biggest obstacle. It is absolutely amazing living in a large, unique city surrounded by young people who are doing the same thing that I am. Watching new start-up companies sprout up daily is what makes the entire Silicon Valley area a globally known technology hub. I am currently working in a drug discovery laboratory at Twist Bioscience as a research associate on the Antibody Engineering team.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? After I graduated college, I created a list of goals for myself, which I am gradually accomplishing over time. My proudest professional accomplishment has been attending our industry Biotechnology conferences with other professional peers. Working in a start-up research lab with passionate scientists has opened an endless number of doors for me, allowing me to have incredible opportunities, and meet with astonishing scientists. I never thought I would be attending a major industry conference as a recent graduate, let alone present my company’s research.

Why would you recommend Penn State to future students? Being a student at Penn State opens a set of doors to becoming part of a new family. Aside from the breath-taking campus resting in Happy Valley, the education a student receives from Penn State is impeccable. Penn State has 20 undergraduate campuses, offering easy access to an immense variety of different programs for students to choose from. The extracurricular activities range from intramural tight-rope walking to Division I athletics. I feel as though Penn State has a spot for every type of student and can become an incredible home for all. Penn State has the largest alumni network in the United States, allowing students to have endless connections for future jobs, continued education and post-graduation guidance. One of my favorite quotes about Penn State that I can agree with from experience: “I wish I could go back, not to change anything, but to do it all over again.”

Any advice to current/future students? College is very different from high school. When I began college, I had to figure out what the best test preparation would be for each class, and how to properly manage my time while also creating a productive flow. Attending the Penn State Shenango campus for my first two years of college was very beneficial, and I highly recommend incoming students to consider it. I was able to have one-on-one chats with my professors, whereas at University Park this is rare due to massive class sizes. I got my first job when I was 16 years old, and I continued working all through college. This was a very big obstacle at first, but it benefited me in the long run. Working part-time during school kept me busy a few nights a week and was actually a nice distraction from school. I recommend to all students to find activities that are separate from school to take a “mental break.” Another activity I enjoyed was being part of clubs and organizations. Involving myself in other parts of the school created a nice balance for me, let me meet more friends and was very beneficial.