Outstanding Shenango campus students, faculty and staff are honored

SHARON, Pa. — Penn State Shenango students were honored at the campus’ 2018 Honors Convocation and Recognition Banquet for their outstanding academic and student leadership achievements and services. The recipients of this year’s Eric and Josephine Walker Award, Dennis W. Bartholomew Outstanding Adult Student Award, the Ann Wansack Award, the Leonard R. Riforgiato Memorial Teaching Award, and the Margaret Cunningham Foley Memorial Teaching Award also were part of the program.

Presenters at the recognition dinner were Campus Director Jo Anne Carrick, Assistant Director of Academic Affairs Elaine Andrews, Student Services Associate Andrew Puleo, and Director of Admissions Chuck Greggs, as well as several faculty and staff who serve as club advisers. 

The first award presented was the President’s Freshman Award, which is given to full-time undergraduate students who have earned a 4.0 grade-point average in the first semester of their freshman year. The recipient of this award was Sara Downs of Jackson Center.

The Robert Weber Mathematics Award honors the late Robert Weber who taught mathematics at the Shenango campus. This year’s award, presented annually to the most promising Shenango campus mathematics student, was given to Gabino Morales of Greenville. 

The Academic Achievement Awards, which are given to students in each college or degree program who have achieved the best cumulative grade-point average during the academic year, were the next to be announced. Priority is given to students who have been in their major for three semesters. 

The recipients included, beginning with baccalaureate-seeking students: Mikayla Cutshaw of Transfer, administration of justice; Kevin Peretic of Masury, Ohio, business; Ronald Cadman of Greenville, business; Alexandra Millan of Hermitage, Division of Undergraduate Studies; Leon Nichols of Sharon, health and human development; James Hancox of Sharon, letters, arts and sciences; Terry Castleman of Sharon, nursing; Susan Merz of Beaver Falls, nursing; Lukas Farrell of New Castle, project and supply chain management.

Those students seeking associate degrees who were chosen for this year’s Academic Achievement Awards included Leah Lopeno of Masury, Ohio, health and human development; Terry Shirely of Sharpsville, letters, arts and sciences; Hannah Lintz of Ellwood City, occupational therapy assistant; Ashley Yavorsky of Greenville, occupational therapy assistant; Lauryn Franklin of Grove City, physical therapist assistant.

The following students were recognized for their high academic achievement with cumulative grade-point averages of 3.5 and above: Becky Blaze of Hermitage; Amanda Bombiani of Hookstown; Megan Chess of Hermitage; Jamie Chlpka of Hermitage; Logan Dolby of Pulaski; Michael Eaton of Cortland, Ohio; Katelyn Erdesky of Hermitage; Kelsey Falconi of Sharpsville; Keturah Gains of Farrell; Alijah Hasan Douglas of Farrell; Miranda Hayes of Greenville; Joel Ibanez of Sharon; Alexandra Izzo of Hermitage; Hennessy Kaller of Sharon; Catherine Laughlin of New Castle; Holly Masters of Cortland, Ohio; Cassandra McCowin of West Middlesex; Elizabeth Meals of North Lima, Ohio; Caroline Megginson of Struthers, Ohio; Haley Morris of Hermitage; Christopher Mosley of Sharon; Melissa Moss of West Middlesex; Tory Nocera of Sharon; Christina Pellis of Farrell; Shauna Phillips of Sharpsville; Lindsey Ranellis of Hermitage; Randy Reardon of Masury, Ohio; Chantal Redmond of Sharpsville; Stephanie Roth of Greenville; April Russ Isler of Youngstown, Ohio; Erin Stoops of Grove City; Shayna Stringert of Clarks Mills; Tyler Thompson of Transfer; Natalie Titus of Sharpsville; and Myranda Zaboroski of Sharon.

The Bernard Osher Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader. The foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. Scholarships are awarded to students pursuing their first bachelor’s degree, are between the age of 25 and 50 years, and have completed at least 12 credits in a degree-seeking program. They must also have a cumulative gap in their education of at least five years, demonstrate financial need, and show academic promise and commitment to obtaining a bachelor’s degree. The Osher Foundation Re-entry Scholarships were awarded to Cristal Bollinger of West Middlesex, Terry Castleman of Sharon, and Kerri Criss of Farrell.

This year’s Honors Program certificates were presented by Elaine Andrews. These certificates were given to those students who have fulfilled the Honor’s Program requirements and have maintained an excellent grade-point average. They are Alex Benedetto of Greenville; Alijah Hasan Douglas of Farrell; Alexandra Izzo of Hermitage; Holly Masters of Cortland, Ohio; and Erica Meszaros of Sharon. All five students received College Honors.

This year’s Eric and Josephine Walker Award was presented to Ariane Wagler of Clarks Mills. This award recognizes students from the University campuses whose outstanding qualities of character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship have been directed into programs and services that have positively influenced fellow students and have contributed to the prestige and well-being of their campus. 

This year’s recipient of the Dennis W. Bartholomew Outstanding Adult Student Award was Alex Benedetto of Greenville. The Outstanding Adult Student Award recognizes a student over the age of 21 who has completed at least 36 credits and who is distinguished by scholarship, service and success in coping with numerous roles and overcoming difficult circumstances in the pursuit of education.  The award is funded by the widow of a former Shenango student, Dennis W. Bartholomew, who attended the campus from 1970-1972 and graduated from the University Park campus in 1974 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. 

This year’s Ann Wansack Award was presented to Shaughnesy Clark of Greenville. The Wansack Award was established in the memory of Ann “Mom” Wansack who was an employee at Penn State Shenango and a devoted friend to the students of the Shenango campus. The purpose of this award is to honor and recognize full-time students enrolled at Penn State Shenango who are actively involved, through leadership or participation, in the betterment of the campus.

The 2018 Leonard R. Riforgiato Memorial Teaching Award was presented to Gizelle Dean of New Castle. She is the coordinator of the campus’s Physical Therapist Assistant Program and an associate teaching professor.

The award was established in memory of Leonard Riforgiato, who taught history at the campus and co-led the campus’s popular Forensics and Debate Team for many years.

This is Dean’s third time to be nominated by her students for this prestigious award. In 2016, she was also selected by her peers to receive the Full-time Faculty Award. In 2013, Dean was nominated for the Pennsylvania State University Schreyer Teaching Award. In 2010, she received the PTA Club Advisor Award. (She also received the award this year — see below).

Dean has a doctorate degree in physical therapy from Slippery Rock University. Her undergraduate degree is from Grove City College in biology and secondary education. In the community, Dean serves on the UPMC Horizon Community Foundation Advisory Board, the Medical Equipment Recycling Program Advisory Board Committee as chair, the Neshannock Township Education Board as trustee and secretary, and the Trumbull County Career and Technical Institute Advisory Board.

The 2018 Margaret Cunningham Foley Memorial Part-time Teaching Award was presented to William Rudge Jr. of Hermitage. Rudge is an adjunct professor of philosophy.

The award was established in memory of Margaret Cunningham Foley, who taught English at the Shenango campus for many years as an adjunct faculty member.

Along with his teaching responsibilities, Rudge is the executive assistant at Bill Rudge Ministries. Through the international organization, he has spoken at numerous religious institutions, schools, and leadership conferences.  He has written numerous articles and books for the ministry. Many of his messages have been used to produce radio broadcasts and CDs. 

He has a doctorate degree in philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary. His undergraduate degree is from Geneva College in biblical studies and philosophy. Outside of work, Rudge is the head girls’ soccer coach at Hickory High School where he has led the Hornets for 13 seasons. 

The Most Outstanding Club Member is an award given to a student who has made an exceptional contribution to the campus community through involvement with a club or organization. The 2017-2018 Outstanding Club member award was presented to Steven Nixon of Mercer. Nixon is the president of the campus’ Occupational Therapy Club.

The Most Outstanding Club Advisor award is given to a faculty or staff member who has made an exceptional contribution to the campus community through advisement of a club or organization. The 2017-2018 Outstanding Club Advisor award was presented to Physical Therapist Assistant Professor and Program
Coordinator Gizelle Dean of New Castle.

The Most Outstanding Staff Member award is given to a Penn State Shenango staff member who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for a student club or organization at the Shenango campus. The 2017-2018 Outstanding Staff Member award was presented to Information Technology Generalist Bruce Rayner of Edinburg.

The Most Outstanding Club award is given to a student organization that has made the most significant contribution to Penn State Shenango and the community. The 2017-2018 Outstanding Club award was presented to the Student Veterans of America (SVA) Club.