Two generations of Bennardos will earn degrees at campus

While Penn State boasts generations of related graduates, Penn State New Kensington will soon lay claim to a family of four who earned their degrees at the New Kensington campus.

Eric Bennardo, a junior communications major, and Amy Bennardo, a sophomore business administration major, will complete their bachelor’s degree studies in 2015 and 2016, respectively. They will join their parents, Michael and Angela Bennardo, as alumni of the campus. Michael earned a bachelor’s in nursing in 1999, and Angela received an associate degree in medical laboratory technology in 1979. Angela was a member of the first class of medical laboratory graduates. The program was discontinued in 2003.

Following in their parents' footsteps, Eric and Amy chose a college that delivers a quality education at an affordable price and is located close to home. The Bennardos commute from their Apollo home which saves expenses on room and board. The family’s legacy played a role in Eric’s decision to enroll at New Kensington.

“I do believe that, along with the academic and social atmosphere of Penn State, that the family tradition greatly influenced my decision to attend Penn State New Kensington," said Eric, who earned a Blue and White Scholarship as a freshman. “My desire to go to Penn State was so great that it was the only school that I applied to, and I am very happy with the classes that I have taken and the professors and classmates that I have met."

For the brother and sister, being on campus together is not a hindrance to their sibling relationship, but just the normal progression of their educational process. Since the brother and sister are only a year apart in age, they attended grammar school and high school at St. Joseph in Natrona Heights.

“I enjoy going to the same college as my brother because we have gone to school together our whole lives,” Amy said. “Also, it's what I've always comfortably known, having my brother a year ahead of me to be my buddy and my guidance.”

Although they have different majors, they had an opportunity to share a class, Business and Professional Communications, during the spring semester. Taught by Jennifer Wood, associate professor of communication arts and sciences, the course is recommended for both business administration and communications programs. It analyzes and evaluates formal and informal patterns of communication in organizations.

Both are active on campus outside the classroom. Eric served as an orientation leader and is a member of the THON committee, Campus Activities Board, and GIG (Groups Investigating God) Club. In addition, he is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. He also volunteered to participate in the Faculty Chats series that featured the Communications program. Faculty Chats is an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the bachelor’s degree programs at the New Kensington campus. High school students and adult learners can talk online with campus faculty and students. The program is held each semester, and the topic rotates among the 14 bachelor’s and associate degree programs.

“It was a great experience, as well as an opportunity to work on my verbal communication skills. I liked being a part of seminar that was promoting a very interesting major to the community,” said Eric, whose chat session can be viewed at

Amy is a work-study student in the Academic and Career Success Center, which is a collaboration of three departments -- Academic Advising, Learning Center, and Career Services -- working together to help students develop and succeed in their academic and career goals. Amy’s responsibilities include making appointments, proctoring learning disability tests and posting internships and jobs online for career services.

Academic Advising helps students with their academic concerns, including career objectives and planned courses of study, The Learning Center is an academic support service offering a myriad of topics, including tutorial services, writing workshops and math support. Career Services provides comprehensive career planning, education and job search support services for students and alumni of Penn State.

After graduation, the younger Bennardos plan on entering the workforce. Eric wants to start with a human resource position and then branch out. Amy hopes to pursue a career in retail management with an eye on business ventures.

“I am looking at a small business entrepreneurship, such as a hair salon, wedding/event coordination, ice-cream shop, real estate, or massage therapy,” she said.

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Last Updated May 07, 2014