Sending a 'We Are!' to these Penn Staters

Nittany Lion Hug

As part of our regular “We Are!” feature, we recognize Penn Staters who have gone above and beyond what’s asked of them in their work at the University. 

Credit: Penn State

As part of our regular “We Are!” feature, we recognize 12 Penn Staters who have gone above and beyond what’s asked for them in their work at the University. 


This week, on behalf of the entire Penn State community, we’d like to say thank you to: 

Jocelyn Bennett Garraway, assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), whose nominator wrote: “Thank you to Jocelyn Bennett Garraway, who not only supports undergraduate and graduate students’ sense of belonging in the College of IST but also engages staff, faculty, and students in creating a welcoming environment for all. Her sincere commitment to and interest in others is a treasure in IST!” 

Estelle Call, academic adviser at Penn State World Campus, whose nominator wrote: “Estelle has volunteered to advise the American Association of University Women (AAUW) student group in World Campus. She takes on this role with an understanding of the importance of highlighting student leaders. She is a seasoned academic adviser portraying the importance of positive impacts within student groups.” 

Beth Edwards, assistant teaching professor of biobehavioral health (BBH) in the College of Health and Human Development, whose nominator wrote: “Beth is a founding co-coordinator of the BBH Student Center. Beth is incredibly collaborative and generous with an unwaveringly student-centered approach.  She has included students in learning support and research within the first year of the center.” 

Katie Gaines, advising program coordinator at Penn State World Campus, whose nominator wrote: “Katie is a wonderful supervisor. She is a positive role model for our team through her leadership style that exemplifies thoughtfulness, kindness and a work ethic that motivates and inspires. Katie projects confidence in the team's ability to work independently and encourages professional growth.” 

Erika Jones, administrative support assistant at Penn State Shenango, whose nominator wrote: “Erika is an amazing person! She represents our campus with grace and is very organized. She has stepped up and has done an amazing job leading our DEI committee. Erika kept the campus running smoothly while she trained a new employee and addressed all of questions with kindness and patience.” 

Kate Manni, director of education abroad at Penn State Global, whose nominator wrote: “Kate is an incredible leader. Not only does she provide tireless support to her reporting staff, but she is also a never-ending advocate for the students we work with. Her limitless patience inspires us, and her daily actions make us feel supported and heard. She is a true representation of the ‘We Are’ spirit!” 

Jennifer Niessner, supervisor for the Center for Fitness and Wellness in the College of Health and Human Development, whose nominator wrote: “In a world of no time and comfy couches, it can be very hard to exercise. We applaud Jennifer and the pilot Employee Wellness Program! Jennifer is the reason we have had a stream of colleagues talking about doing ‘50 pushups’ and ‘three-minute wall sits,’ and cheering each other on toward wellness.” 

Jenn Robinson, senior recruiting specialist in Human Resources, whose nominator wrote: “Jenn is an incredible individual who goes the extra mile to make sure her team feels valued and appreciated. She is a wonderful resource and always willing to jump in and collaborate or find solutions quickly and that are effective. We want to thank Jenn for being an outstanding leader and mentor!” 

Jordan Sneath, talent acquisition specialist in Penn State Human Resources, whose nominator wrote: “Jordan for so willingly and effortlessly stepped in and covered tasks during a coworker’s absence. Her customer service, kindness, supportive nature and work ethic made everything run so smoothly. I feel so grateful for all that she contributes to our entire team.” 

Kristopher Struckmeyer, assistant teaching professor of human development and family studies (HDFS) in the College of Health and Human Development, whose nominator wrote: “Kris joined the HDFS faculty during the pandemic, but he didn't let Zoom classes and meetings stop him from quickly becoming an integral part of our HDFS community! He's quick with a smile, an invitation for coffee and a chat, a word of encouragement or help with a task. He's a joy to work with!” 

Nathaniel Thierwechter, human resources assistant in Human Resources, whose nominator wrote: “Nathaniel is a rockstar! In Athletics we hire a few hundred part-time staff each summer — some on very short notice to work at camps — and Nathaniel always processes the hires in a timely and friendly manner. He never says no and is always willing to go that extra mile to get the job done!”   

Suzy Watson, proposal and award generalist in the College of Agricultural Sciences, whose nominator wrote: “Despite Suzy's workload at times, she always makes time to help faculty, staff or students navigate their way through SIMBA. She does all this with a positive and cheerful attitude. She is an indispensable part of our team, and it is hard to imagine our department without her!” 

Thank you Jocelyn, Estelle, Beth, Katie, Erika, Kate, Jennifer, Jenn, Jordan, Kristopher, Nathaniel and Suzy — and to everyone who helps make Penn State such an incredible community!  

Do you know a Penn Stater who deserves a shoutout? If you do, consider nominating that individual by filling out a short online form