2021 HHD Alumni Society Spring Award Recipients
Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Awards
The Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Awards are presented to a senior in each academic unit of the college for outstanding performance, achievement, and contributions within his/her major.
- William Dervin
William is a World Campus Biobehavioral Health major from Cowan, TN. While completing his degree, William was a student ambassador, a student mentor, and an Undergraduate Teaching Intern. William has also been involved in his local community as a state and nationally licensed EMT, a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer, Remote Area Medical volunteer, a COVID-19 testing and vaccination EMT volunteer, and a Crisis Counselor volunteer. We are proud of you, William, for all of the service you’ve provided to your community while also a Penn State student.
William has received an Undergraduate Certificate in Children, Youth, and Family Services, the President’s Freshman Award, President Sparks Medal, and has been a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society. He has also been the recipient of many scholarships, including a Penn State Alumni Association Trustee Scholarship.
Upon graduation, William plans to continue his education in graduate school to pursue a career in advocacy with a focus on childhood trauma.
- Jamie Brunette
Jamie is a Communication Sciences and Disorders major from Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania. During her time at Penn State, Jamie has been a member of the Sign Language Organization, the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), and Changing Health Attitudes and Actions Recreating Girls (CHAARG). Jamie has also been an Out of the Cold Homeless Shelter volunteer, as well as a Family Relations Chair in THON. She has had the opportunity to be a Teaching Assistant for American Sign Language 1 and has been an undergraduate research fellow under Carol Miller, professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, where they are co-authoring a research brief to educate communities on language pathways for deaf children.
After graduation, Jamie plans to attend graduate school to pursue a career as a practicing Speech Language Pathologist in a clinical setting. She may continue to medical or PA school in the future.
- Sarah Hohman
Sarah, from Mainsburg, Pennsylvania, is a Health Policy and Administration major. She has been very involved while at Penn State, serving as a Donor and Alumni Relations Chair and a Family Relations Adopt-A-Family Program Lead Captain with Springfield benefitting THON. Sarah has also served Camp Kesem of Central Pennsylvania as a Communications and Logistics and Make the Magic Coordinator. Camp Kesem is the largest national organization dedicated to supporting children impacted by parent’s cancer, at no cost to families. Sarah has also volunteered with Penn State’s Lion Pantry, as the Communications and Advocacy Coordinator.
She has also been involved with several research projects with several organizations, including the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She’s also held multiple internships during her career at Penn State, including one with the Centers for Disease Control.
Sarah is a Schreyer Honors Scholar and has been the recipient of several scholarships and awards, including the Shane and Mallory Flickinger Internship Award in Health Policy and Administration, the Jane B. Slep Honors Scholarship, and the Fasola Family Honors Scholarship.
Sarah is enrolled in the Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Master of Public Health Program, graduating in May of 2022. After graduation, she will pursue a career in healthy policy and advocacy, with a special interest in rural populations.
- Lydia Parker
Lydia, from Mill Hall, Pennsylvania, is a Hospitality Management and Applied French major. During her time at Penn State, Lydia has been in the Schreyer Honors College and has been a member of the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality, serving as the Vice-President this academic year.
This summer, Lydia has an internship with Refined Hospitality at the River House property in New Hope, PA. After graduation, she plans to pursue a secondary degree in culinary arts or join a restaurant organization.
- Stephanie Elliott
Stephanie is a World Campus student majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. She lives in Livonia, Michigan. As a World Campus student, she has also been working full time as the Chief Operating Officer of a small healthcare facility, all while maintaining Dean’s list during her career at Penn State.
After graduation, Stephanie plans to attend graduate school for a master’s degree in clinical social work. She would like to work in private practice and pediatric oncology.
Unfortunately, Stephanie wasn’t able to submit a video to us, but she would like to express her gratitude to the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the HHD Alumni Society Board for this recognition.
- Grace Maurer
Grace is a Kinesiology major, Movement Science option from Allentown, Pennsylvania. During her academic career at Penn State, she has been involved in the Kinesiology Club, a Thermoregulatory and Microvascular Physiology Laboratory Research Assistant, a Teaching Assistant for the Functional Human Anatomy Laboratory, a Clinical Intern in the Center for Fitness and Wellness, and a Physical Therapy Volunteer at University Health Services. Outside of the classroom, Grace has also been a Cru Freshman Team Leader, on the Equine Research Team, on the Club Gymnastics Team, played intramural soccer, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, and has been a Lead Caremate Volunteer at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
Grace is a member of the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta National Health Preprofessional Honor Society, and a recipient of the Lamartine Hood Jr. Scholarship of Bucks County.
After graduation, Grace plans to begin a Masters/Ph.D. program in the Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory at the University of Colorado – Boulder.
- Olivia Romano
Olivia, from Chalfont, PA, is a Nutritional Sciences major with minors in Global Health and French. During her time at Penn State, she has been a HealthWorks Peer Educator, where providing one-on-one wellness services, outreach activities, and educational workshops to students. She is also a member of the Student Nutrition Association and United Nations Campus Advocates.
Olivia is a recipient of the Mary Boyle Weaver and Rebecca Boyle Sutherland Scholarship and was awarded an HHD Summer 2019 Undergraduate Research Grant.
After graduation, Olivia plans to attend graduate school to pursue a career in public health and nutrition.
- Madeline Sokoloski
Madeline is a Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management major from Bedford, Pennsylvania. Since being at Penn State, Madeline was a Co-Founder of Days for Girls at Penn State and served a term as Vice-President of the organization. Days for Girls sews reusable women’s health kits, organizes fundraisers, and hosts educational awareness programs around the lack of access to women’s health products and essentials needed for care. Madeline has also been a member of Schreyer for Women, a female focused student group, and Volé, Penn State’s largest dance organization.
Madeline is a Schreyer Honors Scholar and has been on the Dean’s List each semester at Penn State.
Madeline will be an intern this summer at Silver Lake Nature Center, finishing her degree in the fall. After graduation, she plans to work in the field of environmental education.
Edith Pitt Chace Award
The Edith Pitt Chace Award is presented annually to two students who demonstrate outstanding scholarship and leadership in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State.
- Abriana Cain
Abriana is a senior Nutritional Sciences major, enrolled in the Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Program offered through Schreyer Honors College and the Department of Nutritional Sciences. She is from Greencastle, Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Student Nutrition Association, the Nutrition Graduate Student Association, and a Research Assistant in Connie Rogers’ immunology lab. Working in the Rogers’ lab, Abriana has been able to process blood samples from the Data4Action trial, which analyzes COVID-19 antibody levels in the Centre County and Penn State communities. She is now working on her own independent research project to evaluate the effect of physical activity and energy restriction on angiogenesis in the tumor, and if these changes in blood supply alter tumor growth and progression.
In addition to being a full-time student, Abriana has sought a number of employment opportunities that have provided her professional experiences, all while maintaining stellar academics. She’s been a dietary aid at Mount Nittany Medical Center, a recipe developer for Taproot Kitchen, and a catering expert at Chambersburg Hospital.
Her nominator writes, “Abriana is a very bright, incredibly driven, and an extremely enthusiastic student. I am thrilled to have her in the laboratory…. She’s an exceptional scholar and student leader and truly deserving of this prestigious award.”
- Elizabeth Soucy
Elizabeth is a Junior majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a Dietetics option, from Middletown, Delaware. She is a Schreyer Honors College student who has been an active member in the Student Nutrition Association, holding a leadership role her sophomore year. She is also a Health and Human Development Ambassador, often volunteering her time to speak to prospective students and their families about her experience as a student in the department and at Penn State. She most recently served as Vice-President of the HHD Ambassadors. Elizabeth has also been involved in THON, holding numerous leadership positions in the organization, as well as dancing in this year’s event!
In addition to these extracurriculars, Elizabeth has been an Undergraduate Research Assistant, under the direction of the Department Head, Catharine Ross.
One nominator writes, “In my time on the Nutritional Sciences faculty, Elizabeth is one of very few students I have encountered who has the maturity, aptitude, and natural leadership ability to hold these positions and maintain an outstanding academic record.”
Student Service Award
The Student Service Award is presented to one student annually whose interests and actions enhance the College of Health and Human Development and its Alumni Society by promoting service to individuals, families, and communities and encouraging and fostering personal and professional development.
- Keally Haushalter
Keally is a junior majoring in Nutritional Sciences, and native of State College, Pennsylvania. Keally is president of the Student Nutrition Association, where her leadership has re-energized the club. She developed a point system to provide club members incentives to donate food to local food banks during this unprecedented time of need. She also created a student mentorship program, which helps change of campus students integrate into the University Park campus, and soon after the program launched, the program was expanded to include “non-change of campus” freshmen and sophomore students.
Keally is also the president and co-founder of Phi Epsilon Kappa, Penn State’s first professional co-ed health fraternity. Her nominator writes that “she is to be commended for catalyzing the organization of this organization that has a campus-wide impact. Through community engagement, interactions among students of various health disciplines, and professional/academic activities, this fraternity aims to advance public health.”
Keally has been a THON Dancer Relations committee member, and a Meals on Wheels calling volunteer. Keally has also been a Research Assistant for several labs, performing data analysis work, organizing and distributing results to study participants, and summarizing research articles for publication. She’s also been an Undergraduate Teacher’s Assistant for a Personality Psychology course.
Her nominator also writes, “Based on all of Kelly’s service activities and impressive accomplishments that have greatly benefited many other Penn State students, she is truly deserving of receiving the Student Service Award.”
Faculty Appreciation Award
The Faculty Appreciation Award is presented to one individual annually who actively promotes relationships among students, faculty members, staff members, and alumni above and beyond the demands of his/her job.
- Jennifer Agans
Jennifer has been with the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM) since 2018 as an assistant professor, conducting meaningful research, teaching at the graduate and undergraduate level, and helping with the development of the RPTM World Campus Program. One nominator writes “While her CV describes her academic and professional accomplishments, which are impressive in their own rights, I am writing to bring attention to how [she] has made a profound difference in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management by supporting and lifting up RPTM and HHD students, faculty, and staff.”
Since the beginning of 2020, Jennifer began co-chairing the Department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, where she has started a virtual book reading club, discussing books including White Fragility and How to be an Anti-Racist. Those participating in the book discussions have commented that she “consistently leads meaningful, impactful discussions, an undertaking that requires courage, careful thought, and compassion.”
Under Jennifer’s leadership on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee the department has interviewed three black professionals in the field of recreation, park, and tourism and has produced a series of podcasts, elevating black voices within the RPTM field in acknowledgement of the ongoing racial justice movement. She has also led “Lunch Circles” designed to encourage co-mingling of students from diverse backgrounds in RPTM.
One student nominator writes, “On a personal note, [she] has been instrumental to my success as a graduate student and an advocate for a diverse Penn State. She has offered her mentorship for me in difficult academic situations—providing actionable advice to remedy them without compromising my morality. Her instruction in-class has been exemplary, and her passion for equitable access to education and anti-racist ideology is evident in her instruction as well as her extra-curricular work.”
Staff Appreciation Award
The Staff Appreciation Award is presented to one individual annually who actively promotes relationships among students, faculty members, staff members, and alumni above and beyond the demands of his/her job.
- Sadhna Agrawal
Sadhna has been with Penn State for 20 years, the past 7 being with the College of Health and Human Development’s Department of Kinesiology, where she is an Accounting Assistant. Her nomination states that she has an “instinctive focus on relationship building in her service to the Department’s faculty, staff, and students and a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace.” One example of this is that she has introduced the Department to a tradition of potluck-style lunches where the ‘hosts’ introduce dishes from their home region.
When it comes to Sadhna’s work, the scope of her duties is vast. She assists in managing over 80 budgets for the department, managing purchasing card reconciliation for about 50 faculty, assists in keeping salary sheet databases updated, processes travel expenditures, and provides customary budget reports for faculty. In addition to her primary job responsibilities, Sadhna continues to absorb and manage extra duties that help move the department forward.
Her nominator writes, “her contributions to the department have not only been significant, but exceptional…. through her exemplary work ethic and dedication, her innovation and creativity, and importantly her compassion and ability to build relationships, she embraces and emulates the Staff Appreciation Award.”
Got Grit Award
The “Got Grit” Award recognizes outstanding achievement by an undergraduate, of at least sophomore standing, who has demonstrated progressive and positive growth in their performance and who has exhibited perseverance and passion in pursuit of their education.
- Kiara Smith
Kiara is a Nutritional Sciences major from State College, Pennsylvania. In addition to majoring in Nutritional Sciences, Kiara is also majoring in Linguistics, through the Letters Arts and Sciences program and minoring in German. During her junior year, she decided to continue her studies in Nutritional Sciences and was successfully admitted to the Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate program. Kiara is also a Schreyer Honors Student and has demonstrated near perfect academic performance since her freshman year.
Kiara’s nominator writes “I have witnessed Kiara grow into a young researcher with strong critical thinking skills from reading, discussing, and synthesizing peer-reviewed articles in the field. Her passion and persistence in research landed her an interesting research topic for her master’s thesis, that is of great significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her thesis research aims to explore the longitudinal associations between food insecurity, mental health, and sleep outcomes in college students.” Kiara has been the recipient of many awards, The President Freshman Award her first year and the Evan Pugh Award her sophomore year, for being in the top half percent (0.5%) of her class. She has also received the Goldstein Honor Award and Schreyer Honor Award from Schreyer Honors College every year since 2017.
After graduation, Kiara plans to become a registered dietitian and work with food insecure and underserved populations.