Paterno Fellow graduate completes fast track, heads for teaching

Kerri Jasinnas, student marshal for the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State's summer commencement ceremony, earned two degrees: one in Spanish, one in English. A Schreyer Honors College Scholar, she is the first student in the Paterno Fellows Program to earn her degree since the 2008 launch of the honors and leadership program by the College of the Liberal Arts. Named for the University’s longtime head football coach, Joe Paterno, and his wife, Sue, the Paterno Fellows Program is a landmark collaboration between the College of the Liberal Arts and the Schreyer Honors College, offering “an education for leadership” to students who accept the “Paterno challenge.”

All first- and second-year students in Liberal Arts are eligible to perform their way into the program by pursing rigorous academic requirements. As juniors and seniors, they distinguish themselves as excellent communicators, take on internships or study-abroad opportunities, fulfill community service or leadership opportunities, and complete a capstone project that applies their classroom learning to real-world problem-solving.

"Kerri is the protypical Paterno Fellow -- just the type of student we envisioned for the Paterno Fellows program. She likes a challenge (earning her degree in just three years), is academically ambitious and can't wait to make a difference not only in the classroom but also in her community,” said Jack Selzer, the Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows Program and professor of English. “Kerri puts the 'honor' in an honors education, and I'm not surprised that she now has her eyes on a teaching career. When the first full class of Paterno Fellows graduates this coming spring, I anticipate hearing many similar stories of dedication and achievement."

Jasinnas earned bachelor's degrees in Spanish and English with a minor in international studies. She has been on the dean’s list every semester since her first year and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Her undergraduate thesis focused on how a bilingual speaker’s native language may interfere in the learning of a second language, English. She also completed independent study projects on Latin American history and its representation in 20th century Latin American short stories, and on the relationship between author Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, and its influence on his work.

In addition, Jasinnas also studied abroad in Seville, Spain, volunteered as a tutor for adult learners for the Pennsylvania Literacy Corps, and participated in both intramural volleyball and soccer at Penn State. She also worked as a counselor at the Newton Day Camp for several summers. In the fall, Jasinnas will begin a graduate program in education at Arcadia University in Philadelphia.

Last Updated January 10, 2014