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The Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Awards

Stephanie Christine Gonsiewski | Biobehavioral Health icon-olus-circle

Stephanie will be attending South College's Physician Assistant Program in Knoxville Tennessee this Fall. She has worked hard throughout her college years, specifically during her junior year when she was working 8 hour shifts a day, obtaining hours for PA school while also a full-time student and involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Most of her time with extracurriculars is dedicated to her sorority, Sigma Kappa. She enjoys volunteering and making new acquaintances.  


Courtney Q. Gallagher | Communication Sciences and Disorders icon-olus-circle

Courtney has been actively involved in various organizations during her academic career, including HHD Ambassadors, the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), and Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity, where she held multiple chair positions. She has served as a teaching assistant for CSD courses, such as Clinical Phonetics and Introduction to Disorders of Articulation and Phonology. Courtney studied abroad in Besançon, France, at the University of  

Franche-Comté (fran·chuh kaam·tee) where she completed her French minor. Upon graduation, she plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in speech-language pathology, with a focus on the medical setting. 

Danielle Tackash | Health Policy and Administration icon-olus-circle

Danielle prides herself on the time and energy she puts into her studies which has resulted in her earning Dean's list five times. While attending Penn State, Danielle has been an active community volunteer. She was the head chairperson of the senior dinner committee three times in a row and was an avid participant of one of the standing committees as well. She also made time to volunteer at a senior living facility on a weekly basis. After graduation Danielle plans to continue working for Lehigh Valley Health Network, where she is an exceptional employee in Outpatient Registration. She also has her sights set on going back to school to earn her master's in health administration. Her heart’s passion is to work with geriatrics. 


Yan Tung Ip | Hospitality Management icon-olus-circle

Yan Tung is passionate about hospitality management and always aims to achieve outstanding performance in both classes and extracurricular activities.  She is part of the Schreyer Honors College. Her extracurricular activities include president of her cultural club, Hong Kong Student Association, Programming Committee member in International Student Council, Public Relations Director of Elite League of Hospitality in Asia, Dancer Relations committee member of Thon, Orientation Leader, and much more. She prides herself on learning from others and her goal is to be a successful leader. 

Elizabeth Bagley | Human Development and Family Studies icon-olus-circle

 In addition to her HDFS major, Eliza completed minors in Disability Studies and Deafness and Hearing Studies, all while maintaining a spot on the Dean's list for 9 semesters in a row. She is actively involved with the Blue Band, Sign Language Organization, Disney Club, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, and Student Disability Resources. She was able to use her knowledge and experience as a peer educator for the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity to create a peer education program for Student Disability Resources that launched this spring. She is passionate about disability advocacy - the field she hopes to pursue after graduation. She is also involved in a local theater company and works for a party princess business. In October, Eliza will be moving to Florida to participate in the Disney College Program with the hopes of increasing accessibility for the Disney Company's theme parks in Florida 


Rebecca Sarah Gonzalez | Kinesiology icon-olus-circle

Rebecca has contributed to the Kinesiology department through academic honors projects, course performance, and Penn State community involvement. Her proudest academic contributions are her Schreyer Honors Thesis on knee implant biomechanics with her thesis supervisor Dr. Stephen Piazza and her honors advisor Dr. Lacy Alexander as well as the lab manual she created with Dr. Lauren Kramer for KINES 402: Cadaver Dissection Lab. In addition to these projects, she has been an Undergraduate Learning Assistant for KINES 202 since the Spring 2022 semester. Additionally, Rebecca is the President of Penn State's Harry Potter Club, where fun activities and community service opportunities have been implemented to enrich the club experience for its diverse group of members. Her plans for the future include taking two years to pursue a master's degree in Exercise Physiology at the University of Connecticut. She then plans to apply to Medical School. 

Emily Paige Holdsman | Nutritional Sciences icon-olus-circle

Emily has been involved in Student Nutrition Association, Phi Epsilon Kappa, a health professional fraternity as social chair, and Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-health honor society. She has worked in the lab for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior for the past 2 years as a lab assistant. She is proud to have made Dean’s list for each semester at Penn State and to have received the Genevieve Ho award in Nutrition. Emily’s plans for the future involve going to graduate school at Thomas Jefferson University this fall to complete a master’s degree and the dietetic internship. She then plans to pursue her RDN credential and hopes to begin working in clinical nutrition. 

Leann N. Piekut | Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management icon-olus-circle

Leann’s course studies include commercial tourism management, event management, international hospitality, hospitality management, and early childhood education/ child development. 

Leann’s internships include Marriott Vacation Club at Legends Edge at Bay Point in Panama City Beach, Florida, Tussey Mountain Ski Resort, and with Penn State Conferences and Institutes.  

Throughout her time at Penn State, Leann has maintained a 4.0 GPA.  Upon graduation, she will have completed her certificate in Meeting and Event Management.  She then plans to complete the 2023 Semester at Sea Internship with Carnival Cruise Lines in the activities department and hopes to earn a full-time employment position after the program.  

Staff Appreciation Award

Katie Dry, Research Manager, Department of Kinesiology icon-olus-circle

Katie has worked at Penn State for almost four years. In 2021, she stepped into a newly developed position as research manager for the Department of Kinesiology.  She has exceeded expectations for the position, and in doing so, brought new and innovative approaches to the department. She has built relationships across units and specialties to inform initiatives and decision making at our department level. Kate is driven by the desire to serve with integrity and to "do the right thing." She views our department as a team and embodies spirit and pride in our team through our work.

Faculty Appreciation Award

Penny Kris-Etherton, Evan Pugh University Professor of Nutritional Sciences icon-olus-circle

Penny has been on the faculty since 1979 and a Distinguished Professor of Nutrition for nearly 30 years.  She has achieved international recognition for her research program in cardiovascular nutrition. She exemplifies the scholarship of service to Penn State and her profession. Penny has received numerous awards in recognition of research, service and professional excellence.  In addition to being one of the top 1000 female scientists in the world (out of over 160,000 evaluated by, Penny is kind and collaborative. She is a committed mentor, teacher and advisor who is dedicated to advancement of junior faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students. The American Society of Nutrition recognized her outstanding mentorship and contributions to the development of successful nutrition science investigators by bestowing its Dannon Mentorship Award in 2018. 

Edith Pitt Chace Award

Jena L. Dehoff, current Biobehavioral Health student icon-olus-circle

Jenna is involved in several aspects of our Penn State community. She has served as an undergraduate Research Assistant with Dr. Michelle Hostetler and the Prosper 2nd Generation Study team as well as for the Family Foundations Study.  
Jenna is a distinguished member of the Biobehavioral Health Society and currently serves as Treasurer.  Additionally, she is an active THON Volunteer having served on the Dancer Relations Committee, is a volunteer mentor with Penn State LifeLink, a program for college aged students with disabilities, and is active with her sorority. Jenna aspires to be a Dentist.   In preparing for dentistry, she has immersed myself in the Penn State Pre-Dental Society and volunteers for free medical and dental clinics.

Caroline T. Graff, current Kinesiology student icon-olus-circle

Caroline excels in her classwork while engaging in other leadership and research endeavors as she pursues her goal of becoming a physical therapist.  She received top ambassador award for the 2021-22 school year as an HHD student ambassador.  Caroline is involved in Research at Penn State in the biomechanics laboratory, facilitating volunteer participation in research and assists with data collection. She works in collaboration with the Department of Physical therapy at Northwestern University participating in evolving Parkinson’s research, has collaborated on multiple research studies, and presented findings to Doctor of Physical Therapy students. Caroline plans to pursue doctoral of physical therapy and a master's in public health. She plans to work research and rehabilitation for Parkinson’s disorder and other movement disorders. 

Got Grit Award

Nick Dawkins, current Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management student icon-olus-circle

Nick is a stellar member of our academic community while balancing his scholarship with athletics and personal / family challenges.  His nominators highlighted Nick’s tendency to demonstrate grit despite challenges. At a young age, after the death of his father, he took on household responsibilities and stresses in addition to helping to take care of a special needs sibling.  Nick excelled in football, earning a spot on the Penn State Football Team.  Nick’s mother encouraged him to focus on both education and athletics.   When other teammates were spending extra time working out, Nick chose to study. A season-ending injury and recent personal losses have not deterred him from focusing on his education. This progressive and growth is exemplified by his being twice named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team, which requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, three times Deans list, and his role as a board member of the Penn State Student-Athlete Athletic Director’s Leadership Institute. 

Student Service Award

Lauren Koczwara, current Biobehavioral Health student icon-olus-circle

Lauren has been involved in several activities that highlight the important service she is doing that is directly benefiting the health and quality of life of others.  She is an HHD student Ambassador.  Lauren serves as a member and Service Project Chair for Penn State’s Area Medical Club and has been instrumental in identifying healthcare resources for community members in financial need. Lauren has organized community food drives for homeless shelters, making Christmas cards for Penn State’s Children’s Hospital, and making scarves for shelters.  As a volunteer at Our Children's Montessori School, she guides children and helps them learn motor and cognitive skills. Since 2020, Lauren has been heavily involved in Penn State THON as a member of the Rules and Regulations and Dancer Relations Committee.  She has gained clinical experience working in the Metabolic Kitchen and Children’s Eating Behavior Laboratory and volunteering at a local dental clinic. All of this and making Dean’s list for four semesters.  Lauren plans to go to Dental School and become a a General Dentist.