With its remarkable professors, unlimited extracurriculars, and spirit-rousing game day traditions, Penn State has a 159-year-long history of excellence.
Its alumni have gone on to become astronauts, Hollywood actors, politicians, and major league athletes, and the school continues to shape future generations of impressive and inspiring individuals.
From leading missions to the moon to directing the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, these 18 students are … Penn State.
Class of 2014
DeHart was 10 years old when he started cutting grass. By the time he was 14, he was paying taxes on a legitimate landscaping business. Growing up earning a livelihood in the outdoors, DeHart understands how vital sustainability is.
Now with more than 60 lawns mowed each week and three employees working under him, DeHart manages Clean Cut Landscaping from school and is focused on going green-er. He's implemented fuel-saving measures into the business, and eliminated the use of fertilizers.
He channels his love of working outdoors into studying agriculture as well. In the last 18 months DeHart has toured Pamplona, Spain, to research biomass processing systems, and interviewed small-scale farmers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. His questionnaires, which he conducted in Urdu and Hindi, addressed agricultural strategies, economics, and resources.
DeHart plans to combine his entrepreneurial skills and technical agriculture knowledge into helping farmers in the developing world escape poverty, and wants to broaden his business analytics experience here in the U.S.
Abu Fofanah came to America when his family won the lottery, and started a motivational t-shirt company.
Class of 2015
In his freshman year Fofanah launched Motivational Apparel, or MoAp, a line of athletic t-shirts displaying inspirational messages.
He used $US1,500 of his own money to get it up and running and has since sold almost 500 shirts, donating 10% of proceeds to the Special Olympics. Celebs like John Legend have been seen sporting Fofanah's line, and he's met with representatives from Urban Outfitters about selling in stores.
But success hasn't been easy for Fofanah who, when he was three or four years old, fled war-torn Sierra Leone with his mother and some of his siblings. His older siblings had to remain behind, and it was eight years before he saw them again.
Fofanah hasn't wasted an opportunity since coming to the States. Growing up in extreme poverty outside Philadelphia, he worked hard in school while his mother juggled multiple jobs. He received a full academic scholarship to the honours program at Penn State, and recently interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The budding entrepreneur plans to pursue his passion for fashion and retail, and one day run his own business.
Class of 2014
Allison Hoover got involved with Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school, and in her sophomore year of college was just one of only two FFA members (out of nearly 580,000 members country-wide) selected to attend the renowned World Food Prize awards conference. The event fosters dialogue of global agriculture and food security, and gave Hoover the opportunity to engage with professionals in her future industry.
After she returned from the conference in 2012, she took it upon herself to facilitate a workshop at the state conference of the Pennsylvania Association for Agricultural Educations, where she led talks of classroom engagement strategies and presented her experiences from World Food Prize.
Hoover travels extensively not just to learn about agricultural education, but to teach it. She is student teaching this semester, and will spend part of the time in Costa Rica teaching, in Spanish, some first-year agricultural courses at a national technical university. Hoover recently returned from Thailand and Cambodia on a two-week class-related trip focused on small farmers and food security in Southeast Asia.
Hoover is still making plans for after graduation, but she knows that another initiative abroad is in her future, possibly through a Fulbright Fellowship or with the agricultural education teaching program AgriCorps, and, eventually, grad school.
Class of 2015
Amy Rutter spent last summer interning at the Smithsonian's National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program studying different skull specimens of the brocket deer from the last 100 years. Taking linear measurements of the skulls, Rutter was then able to present her findings to her supervisor Kris Helgen, the scientist who recently made headlines with his discovery of a new carnivorous mammal, the olinguito.
While Rutter wasn't involved in the olinguito discovery, she was privy to Helgen's explanation of his research before news of his discovery was publicized.
Rutter also spent a summer in Canada doing field research on the patterns in which the tern, a type of waterbird, feeds its chicks. Her presentation of her work received international recognition from the Waterbird Society when they awarded her the Best Student Poster Award.
These days Rutter is researching the morphology of wet natural history specimens of the croaking gecko, and planning for a future in academia. Rutter hopes to get her Ph.D in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and work as a professor or museum curator while conducting research.
Class of 2017
The freshman quarterback quickly made a name for himself with the Nittany Lions. He enrolled at Penn State in June and won the starting job in training camp, becoming the school's second true freshman quarterback since 1911 to start the first game of the season.
The 12-game starter showed a strong arm and quick grasp of the team's complex offence. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Hackenberg threw for nearly 3,000 yards, with 20 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions -- earning him the Big 10 title of Freshman of the Year.
He's becoming an icon on campus, referred to as 'a light at the of the tunnel' in the Penn State football program. A Communications major and Under Armour All-American, Hackenberg has more than 31K followers on Twitter. He recently stirred some locker room buzz when he was the first player to meet one-on-one with the new head coach, James Franklin.
Hackenberg confirmed earlier this year that he will stay with Blue and White through the upcoming season.
Class of 2016
Last season, the men's hockey team participated in the Match4Kim drive, a search for a bone marrow transplant for the mother of a Penn State lacrosse player. Glen, the team's forward, was not a match for his teammate's mother, but matched a complete stranger also in need of a transplant. Regardless, Glen decided to undergo a peripheral blood stem cell bone marrow donation for that person earlier this year.
The procedure involved a series of filgratism injections over five days. On the fifth day, Glen sat for six hours with a needle in each arm -- blood travelling from the left arm into a machine that separates the components for collection, and then back into the right arm.
After the week-long recovery timetable, he was back on the ice to finish the season. Glen, who led the team in goals last season, drove the Blue and White to victory against No. 10 ranked University of Michigan in its first Big 10 conference.
Glen will pursue a professional hockey career after graduation.
Class of 2015
When Elliott Killian decided to run for township supervisor in his Pennsylvania hometown, he had a big obstacle to overcome: lowering the minimum age to be able to run for office in the first place. While the previous minimum age was 21, Killian moved to pass a law to change the age to 19 -- and won, not just the change of law, but the position of Ferguson Township Supervisor.
Though he says the law 'barely passed,' it allowed him to take the position and serve on a number of local boards and commissions that make decisions on matters related to public service and the environment, police pensions, and local infrastructure.
When he's not tending to matters in Ferguson, Killian is also on the executive board of his fraternity and completing his major in horticulture.
Killian isn't planning on seeking re-election, but when he graduates in 2015 he wants to start a social good company that has a positive impact on the world.
Class of 2017
Kara Morgan, an Aerospace Engineering major, joined Penn State's Lunar Lion Team -- a team of faculty and student mechanical and aerospace engineers -- as a freshman with a lofty goal: to get to the moon by December 2015.
The Lunar Lion Team is the only university-led team to have entered the Google Lunar XPRIZE Foundation's competition to be the first private craft to land on the moon. One of just eighteen teams that remain, Morgan says the Lunar Lion Team will be the fourth entity ever to land on the lunar surface, and when they do they could win the $US20 million Google Lunar XPRIZE.
Now a sophomore, Morgan was made the team's Logistics Manager and coordinates much of the inner-team relations like managing and guiding new members, distributing information, and conducting outreach efforts.
In the fall of 2014 Morgan will begin a four co-op rotation with NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas and work on assembling and testing actual rocket hardware. After her fourth rotation, the co-op will transition to a full-time, permanent position with the Johnson Space Center after she graduates.
Class of 2014
As a research fellow at Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute, Foecke helped develop a method in which jade artifacts can be matched to their areas of geological origin based on chemical composition. Her research helped archaeologists reconstruct trade routes and interactions between the cultures and people who made the artifacts.
The project uses electron probe microanalysis to quantify cathodoluminescence as a sourcing technique for jadeite. In plain English, Foecke's role was to integrate two previously unrelated chemical analysis techniques in order to produce highly accurate and high resolution maps of jade's chemical makeup. The maps will be used to extract quantitative data that, when compared to the composition of known sources of jade, will help the archaeologists figure out where the jade artifact came from.
The Damascus, Md. native -- and competitive swing dancer -- plans to enroll in gradate school this fall to start her doctorate in archaeological science, focusing on method development for chemical analysis of archaeological pottery.
Class of 2014
When Marcy Herr, who has an intense passion for children's rights and education, was presented with the opportunity to spend three weeks in an orphanage in Jaipur, India, she jumped at the chance. She spent the summer caring for a group of 30 rural village children who only spoke Hindi, and was invited to return the following summer as a teaching assistant for the next class of students going on the trip.
She and the supervising professor developed an enhanced curriculum together for an annual, recurring program in India, taking on a large role in helping to plan the university students' itinerary and eventually accompanying them to India to prepare for the program, overcome culture shock, and serve as a liaison between them, Penn State, and their hosts in India. Herr's program was so successful that Penn State expanded the same model to use as the basis for a similar program in Brazil.
Well-recognised on campus for her service and leadership, Herr received the 2013 Penn State Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award, given to only one undergrad student a year.
Herr was accepted into the Teach for America program in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the fall of 2014, and plans to focus in the long-term on international development with an emphasis on children's rights and education.
Class of 2014
As a man in a female-dominated sport, Freeman was apprehensive coming to Penn State. He had been twirling since the age of nine, when he begged his mother for private lessons during the long drives to his sister's practices, but his high school principal had told him it was a distraction on the field and a waste of time.
Freeman blew away the coaches during auditions and was named Feature Twirler his freshman year. During his career, Freeman has captained the USA World Team at the World Baton Twirling Championships, earned more than 20 national titles, and taken home six world titles -- more than any Feature Twirler in Penn State history.
His feats of strength and flair include twirling five batons at once, soaking them in kerosene and gasoline, and throwing so high one got stuck on top of the Jumbotron. Last fall, he proposed to his college sweetheart, Meredith Semion, who he met in Blue Band.
Freeman accepted a job at Target Corporation in Los Angeles and will begin his career in marketing. He plans to teach twirling and begin judging competitions once settled in California.
Class of 2017
In 2009 Max Rohn was wounded in combat while serving in Iraq when his Humvee was struck by a grenade. Though doctors tried to save his leg, Rohn eventually needed an amputation from the knee down on his right side.
But rather than quit, Rohn has used this life change as a motivation to recover and excel in athletics -- which he does. A competitor in the Team Navy 2013 Warrior Games for wounded warriors, Rohn won gold in the discus throw, leading to his being selected to compete in track and field at the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France, this past July.
Currently a freshman at Penn State, Rohn became a welcome addition in the Penn State Ability Athletics team, and excels in track and field there. He came in first place at both the Penn State Paralympic discus throw and shot put events in this month's National Invitational, and is in the running for the 2016 Paralympic Games.
The trained EMT is studying biomedical engineering and hopes to help others with prosthetics someday.
Class of 2014
Hayes' speed and ability to find the back of the net made her a titan of the Blue and White, and helped her secure a spot on the Sky Blue FC, one of nine teams in the newly founded National Women's Soccer League. The high-scoring Penn State forward was selected in the first round.
A three-time semifinalist and finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, Hayes finished her career at Penn State as one of the most decorated players in program history. She scored 71 career-goals, the third-most in the program's 19-year history. In her senior campaign, she led the team in goals and points -- all while maintaining a 3.4 cumulative GPA.
Hayes, a West Orange, N.J. native, returns to her home state in March, to report to preseason camp with the Sky Blue FC.
Class of 2014
Draper recently returned from Borneo, Indonesia, where she took part in a seven-week research journey alongside leading experts in the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project. Her objective was to better understand the wild population of primates in the region, and funnel that research into safeguarding their habitats in the tropical rain forest.
At base camp she set motion detection cameras to examine elusive animals, took measurements of specially tagged trees that were known to be primates' hang-out spots, and participated in a behavioural follow. Her team stalked orangutans and Bornean gibbons in the forest and collected data -- an experience that solidified Draper's desire to study gibbons in her research career, and provided crucial information for conservation management.
Draper, a psychology major, plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of her dream of becoming a primatologist.
Class of 2015
Noor Nahavandi started CrossedClouds, a web design and online marketing company, with a partner in his freshman year at Penn State and, after nearly two years of successfully servicing local businesses and growing the enterprise to a five-figure business with five employees, Nahavandi sold the business to his partner to pursue other opportunities.
Last semester Nahavandi co-founded Nittany Consulting Group (NCG), his own consulting business. In barely six months since launch, Nahavandi oversees 20 committee members, 11 consultants, and three major projects at NCG, one of which involves a multimillion dollar client. Through NCG Nahavandi also holds office hours for local entrepreneurs looking for advice on how to start and grow businesses of their own.
Other entrepreneurial endeavours Nahavandi has been involved in, including a business idea pitch to representatives from Penn State and executives from Kohl's, won him the 2013 Smeal Case Competition and a $US5,000 prize.
Nahavandi plans to marry his high school sweetheart after graduating in 2015 and go into consulting before pursuing an MBA and continuing to build companies that make positive, fundamental changes in the world.
Class of 2015
Being faced as a child with his mother's multiple sclerosis diagnosis and the progression of the disease, Henrici developed an interest in science early on. He conducts research at the Penn State Center for Eukaryotic Gene Regulation in order to understand the molecular basis of human diseases, like cancer and developmental disorders. Because many developmental diseases and cancers are problems of improper gene expression, Henrici is studying how gene regulation proteins interact with their chromosomal targets to cause these diseases. He's recently made a breakthrough, and is making his findings in this work the focus of his thesis.
Henrici is also the co-author on an upcoming paper on gain-of-function avian influenza research paper that seeks to inform the international policy and intelligence communities about avian influenza research. Henrici will be presenting his paper at this year's Five Eyes Analytic Training Conference, a twice-yearly event between five countries' intelligence communities and selected college students who present on national and global security topics.
Outside of his research, for which he spends nearly 30 hours a week in the lab, Henrici designs fundraising merchandise as the gear chair of the THON hospitality committee.
Henrici wants to go to medical school and conduct clinical research to develop earlier disease detection methods or novel treatments to improve patient outcomes for recovery.
Class of 2014
As the executive director of THON, the largest student-run philanthropy effort in the world, Ryan Patrick has one of the biggest responsibilities on campus. He oversees more than 15,000 Penn State students who volunteer for THON -- basically the equivalent of leading a major nonprofit corporation.
In the last year, after the traditional 46-hour no sitting, no sleeping, 700-person dance marathon, Patrick and his THON volunteers raised and donated nearly $US12.4 million to the Four Diamonds Fund for families fighting pediatric cancer. Since THON's inception in 1972, the philanthropy has raised over $US101 million.
As executive director, Patrick is charged with managing an executive committee of 14 people who each oversee a different aspect of the organisation ranging from public relations to technology. Patrick is working to advance THON as a more nationally-recognised organisation and to reinforce and grow their efficient fundraising efforts.
Himself a Type 1 Diabetic, Patrick is also very passionate about the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is involved in fundraising and participating in events like the annual JDRF Walk in Philadelphia. The mechanical engineering major has accepted a position as a Strategy and Operations Business Analyst for Deloitte Consulting for when he graduates in May, but plans to continue supporting both THON and Penn State as an alum.
Class of 2014
Cole's path to becoming chairperson of the Penn State chapter of Global Brigades -- the world's largest student-led global health and sustainable development movement -- has led her through Ghana, Honduras, and Panama. She will visit Nicaragua this spring.
A passionate advocate for rural health care provision, Cole joined Global Brigades three years ago in a quest to learn more about global medical needs. Service trips gave her the opportunity to volunteer at health clinics abroad, where she rotated through working triage; shadowing doctors, pharmacists, and gynecologists; and presenting educational materials. She also helped construct schools, community health centres, and water systems that collect and store rainwater.
The soon-to-be first-generation college graduate is also working to ensure her peers have the same access to such life-changing experiences. Last year, roughly 300 Penn State students traveled through Global Brigades. Back on campus, Cole organizes documentary screenings, coffeehouse discussions, guest speakers, and other awareness events.
Cole plans to get a combined M.D. and a Master of Public Health, but may take a gap year to work in Nicaragua. Down the road, she hopes to work for a non-profit or government agency.
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