Penn College Awards reflect 2021 grads' widespread engagement

Published 05.12.2021

Student News

Eight imminent graduates have been added to the impressive roster of Penn College Award recipients, chosen from among their peers for sterling student leadership.

“Despite ongoing challenges, I am thankful that we were able to present awards to these very deserving students,” said Allison Bressler Grove, director of student engagement. “Their contributions set an example for their classmates – and are a reminder to all of us – of the benefits of campus involvement.”

Penn College Awards have historically been presented by President Davie Jane Gilmour during a spring banquet, at which recipients are joined by their families and campus mentors, but the event has been canceled due to COVID in each of the past two years. The honorees are given plaques and Penn College lapel pins; their names are published in the commencement program and are permanently displayed on a wall plaque in the Bush Campus Center (just outside the Office of Student Engagement).

An alphabetical list of 2021 recipients, their hometowns and majors, a much-abbreviated list of their many activities, and representative comments from their references, follow:

Janelle R. Becker
Culinary arts and systems

Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup, campus “Chopped” competition (and other Le Jeune Chef Restaurant events), Resident Assistant, Connections Link, ConCreate Design Club social media and volunteer days, various awareness walks and cleanup activities

"Janelle continues to be as excited and eager about working at Le Jeune Chef as she was in her first semester. As she has continued to come into her own as a young chef, she has made great strides from being another cook among many to a leader in our kitchens. Younger students look to her for guidance and advice. I could not be more proud of the person that Janelle has become during her time at Penn College."

Patrick C. Ferguson
Business administration: marketing concentration

Student Government Association president (as well as vice president for financial affairs and senator), Leadership Boot Camp, Lead PCT, Wildcat Events Board, Information Technology Services Advisory Committee chair, lead Connections student assistant, Office of Student Engagement information desk clerk, Community Service Saturdays

"Patrick made it a point to make the most of his student experience, and as a result took on lots of student leadership opportunities, both paid and volunteer. Patrick is an excellent student leader and he's grown exponentially since first arriving at Penn College. He's thoughtful and considerate of others and continuously strives to better the student experience for others."

Olivia C. Ferki
Plastics and polymer engineering technology

Society of Plastics Engineers officer and board member, Plastics Innovation and Resource Center research assistant, College Relations student assistant, Scholarship Luncheon student speaker, Donor Recognition student representative and panelist, Resident Assistant, Alpha Chi honor society, tutor, Paw It Forward/Give Thanks initiative

"It has been pleasure to see Olivia immerse herself into campus life at Penn College. She has equally taken advantage of the academic experiences within her program and in campus life."

Ethan M. McKenzie
Software development and information management

Student Government Association president, 2020 SGA Senator of the Year, Campus Leaders Colloquy founder, at-large student representative to College Council (and other governance service), Student Leader Legacy Scholarship recipient, Connections Link, Community Peer Educator, Madigan Library student assistant, Circle K, Community Service Saturdays

"Ethan is a change maker, with a drive and a focus to make a difference in the lives of other individuals. He approaches problems with solutions, he listens, he advises and he is humble. Ethan comes to the table with creative ideas, a plan to implement them, and the care and passion to do so with others in mind. By far, he is one of the most ambitious, motivated and compassionate students I had the pleasure of working with."

Joey M. Morrin
Graphic design

Resident Assistant of the Year, Presidential Student Ambassador, Connections Link, Residence Life summer conference assistant, Wildcat tennis team, Chi Alpha Sigma student-athlete honor society, various national student design awards, American Institute of Graphic Arts student chapter, Penn College Benefiting THON, Yellow It Out suicide awareness/prevention campaign design

"He shares his talents freely and is enthusiastic and upbeat in his interactions. Joey has demonstrated leadership, commitment and compassion. He has excelled at juggling academics and extracurricular activities. He has made a lasting impact on campus and will be dearly missed, but I know he will continue to stay engaged as part of our alumni family."

Maddie Newell
Surgical technology

Student Society of Surgical Technologists president, Student Government Association senator and chair of the Wellbeing Committee, Resident Assistant, Residence Life student employee, Campus Crusade for Christ, Students Benefiting THON recruitment chair, social media promotion of Yellow It Out suicide awareness/prevention campaign, Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week

 "She is an aspiring health care professional, so we can clearly understand the deep-rooted passion she has for serving others. It is easy to see how her involvement and academic success are going to serve her well later in life, but her purpose is not self-serving. She mentors, she tutors, she works and she leads because she has a passion for helping others. Her motivation is genuinely altruistic."

Kaylee A. Smith
East Stroudsburg
Graphic design

American Institute of Graphic Arts student chapter president (as well as former vice president and participant in a number of AIGA outreach events), new member educator for Theta Phi Alpha sorority, Greek Week Food Drive, virtual Tree Ornament Workshop host, advertising chair for Penn College Benefiting THON, Lanterns on the Lawn, food drives for The Cupboard, Susquehanna Riverwalk cleanup

"Kaylee is a natural leader who exemplifies the best of Penn College through a commitment that balances both academics and service. I have known her for almost four years and every day I am impressed with not only her work ethic but also her dedication to putting others first as a means of helping them be the best students, community members and designers they can be."

Danielle R. Wesneski
Applied management

New Student Leader of the Year, Presidential Student Ambassador, Student Development Assistant, Student Leader Legacy Scholarship recipient, Kentucky Derby, Pennsylvania Farm Show, baking and pastry lab assistant, Penn College Business Club, Hospitality Connections Club, Circle K charter president and lieutenant governor, Campus Crusade for Christ

 "Danielle is always mindful of team goals, and you can always count on her to deliver on her word or project assignment. Her clear communication, proactive outreach and time-management skills enhance our operations and the overall effectiveness of our department. Her countless contributions over the past four years have significantly impacted student life at Penn College (and beyond)."

Any Penn College student who will graduate (in May, August or December ceremonies), and who meets the award criteria, may apply or be nominated each calendar year. All but one of the eight newest honorees are taking part in May 14-16 commencement exercises; Newell is scheduled to graduate later this year.