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Students Honored for Leadership at Penn State Brandywine

Steve Iatesta
New SGA President Steve Iatesta
4/29/2011 —

In honor of their dedication to the campus community, the Penn State Brandywine Office of Student Affairs recognized student clubs, programs, advisers and overall outstanding students at the annual Student Leadership Awards ceremony on April 20.

It was no surprise that Brandywine THON earned the award for Student Club/Organization of the Year. Honorable mention in this category went to the Veterans Club. “THON has successfully gained and maintained 30 members throughout the academic year … and has gained the support of the entire campus community by holding events that engaged everyone,” Director of Student Affairs Matthew Shupp said, quoting the nominator, as he announced the winner.

The nomination for the Veterans Club read, “Even though the Veterans Club is a new club on campus … it is becoming a visible presence. The club members were or are currently enlisted in several branches of the military, and most of them have served in Iraq or Iran for several tours of duty. Sometimes it is difficult for them to meet because of their prior obligations to the military, but they are trying hard to get the club up and running.”

The winner of the Outstanding Program or Event of the Year award was the Student Government Association (SGA) Pep Rally, held last fall. “It was well attended and very entertaining, with free food, music, giveaways and athletic competitions,” the nomination read. “This event gave students, faculty and staff a chance to learn more about our sports teams.”

Instructor in Education Jean McKay was honored with the award for Club/Organization Adviser of the Year, because one nominator believes “the club has grown because of her efforts. Jean has worked tirelessly to bring the Education Club to where it is today.”

Senior Brittney Walker was given the Deborah J. Erie Student Leader Award. Reading from the nominations, Shupp said, “Brittney Walker exemplifies an outstanding student leader. Her dedication and commitment to THON, "Lion’s Eye" and academics makes her a worthy recipient of this award.”

Another nominator noted, “Brittney Walker stands out from her peers because of the positive attitude and enthusiasm she brings to every campus experience. She takes on leadership roles in student organizations … and consistently rises to the challenge of leadership and serves as a model to other students. She is not just a student on this campus; she is a presence.”

Sophomore Chris Brown received the Outstanding Lion Service Award for his excellent job and enthusiasm as the campus mascot.

The Outstanding Adult Student Award was given to senior Katherine Peters and junior Jill Gillin. Peters, who nominated herself, said “The path I have traveled to get to where I am today has not been easy by any means. I often get emotional when telling others how I struggled with school for the longest time. However, I try to share my experiences from the past and demonstrate to others how they too can overcome obstacles.” The nominator for Jill wrote, “Jill is dedicated, enthusiastic, responsible and hard-working and truly serves as an inspiration, not only to her classmates but to the faculty and staff who have the pleasure of working with her.”

Senior Martina Gill was honored with the Outstanding Student Service to Campus and Community Award. “As co-chair of THON, Martina dedicated much of her time to overseeing canning weekends (while canning herself), organizing, advertising around campus and starting the ‘We are … Penn State!’ cheer at fundraising events,” the nomination read. 

The Barbara-Jackson Williams Award for Cross-Cultural Understanding was bestowed upon sophomore Yash Patel. “One of the best ways to establish cross-cultural understanding is through conversation,” Shupp read. “Yash Patel is a student leader who is willing to participate in conversations which expand his knowledge of others as well as their knowledge of him. He contributes ideas to better improve systems for clubs and organizations.”

Knittany Lion Needleworks was given the Diane D. Shorter Outstanding Community Service Award. “Although not a traditional student group on campus, Knittany Lion Needleworks does serve an important role in connecting everyone throughout the Penn State community to the local-to-international community. Our impacts are felt near and far,” the nomination read.

image of student awardees
From the left: Yash Patel, Laura Guertin (representing the Knittany Lion Needleworks, Jean McKay, and Martina Gill 

Before the evening concluded, the gavel was officially passed from this year’s SGA president, sophomore Jerry Fokas, to incoming president, senior Steve Iatesta. “When I was in your shoes a year ago,” Fokas said, “Brittney Walker (outgoing SGA president) handed me a binder filled with the year’s accomplishments. I’ve not only held onto it, I have added to it, and I present it to you tonight with the hopes that you will pass it on to the next SGA president.”

In his remarks, Iatesta commented on his agenda for the coming year. “One of my objectives is to increase communication between student clubs and the student body,” he said. “I also plan to have regular ‘Lunch with the President’ events right here in the Lion’s Pit. I will ask students about their concerns and what we can do about that.”
In conclusion, he said, “As Penn Staters, our spirit is our greatest inheritance.”

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