Shanna Williams receives Walker Award at Penn State New Kensington

On campus, Shanna Williams has a zest for academic excellence and service to the University and the community. Off campus, Williams has a passion for horses and children with disabilities. From a melding of the two profiles emerges the personification of the vision of former Penn State President Eric Walker.
Williams, a senior majoring in applied psychology, was named this year's recipient of the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award on April 26, at the Academic and Student Achievement Awards ceremony at Penn State New Kensington.
The Walker Award is given to the student whose outstanding qualities of character, scholarship and leadership contribute to the prestige of the campus. The award was established in 1980 by former Penn State President Eric A. Walker and is presented at each of the 24 Penn State campuses.
A member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Psi Chi honor societies, and listed in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges and American Universities,” Williams has been on the dean's list every semester. She has been awarded numerous scholarships throughout her four years at the campus and is the current recipient of the Gregory and Xenia Kotyk Memorial Trustee Family Scholarship. She earned the scholarship on the basis of academic promise, leadership qualities and community service.
The classroom is not the only place that Williams excels. Her extracurricular activities include tutoring fellow students in a myriad of academic subjects. The tutoring is complemented by her position as a work-study student in the Academic and Career Success Center. She assists students with major and career exploration decisions and helps them navigate the center’s resources.
Williams holds leadership positions for two student clubs -- president of the Group Investigating God and secretary of the Psychological Association. A component of all campus clubs’ mission statement is community service, and through her association with the clubs, Williams has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Rachel Carson’s Homestead. 
When not on campus, Williams’ leisure time is spent caring for her three horses and her fiancé’s two horses. The herd is stabled at his farm in Apollo. During the summer, she rides local trials during the week and takes part in riding contest on the weekends. Riding horses goes hand-in-hand with her career aspirations.
After graduation, Williams plans to get a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and open a therapeutic horseback riding practice to help children and young adults with disabilities. To that end, she volunteers for Riding for the Handicapped of Western Pennsylvania. Williams works with children of various disabilities -- blindness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders and autism. While working on a class research project, she delved into the little-known topic of the social, emotional and behavioral benefits of horseback riding. Most research studies extolled only the physical benefits. Her findings spawned the idea of starting her own business.
At the annual Celebration of Excellence ceremony, students, faculty and staff were honored for their achievements inside and outside the classroom. More than 100 students were recognized for their academic prowess and extracurricular accomplishments during the fall and spring semesters.
Three faculty members were honored with the Excellence in Teaching Awards – Jyotsna “Josie” Kalavar, associate professor of human development and family studies (full-time); William Mitas, instructor in theatre arts (part-time); and Marilyn Bartolacci, adjunct instructor in communications (Continuing Education). Faculty has three areas of responsibility: teaching, research/scholarly activity and service. The award recognizes campus faculty contributions in teaching. The principal criterion is excellent classroom performance, but excellence in other activities such as advising, supervision of learning outside the classroom and course development are also considered.
In addition to the faculty teaching awards, Richard Harnish, associate professor of psychology, was named the first recipient of the inaugural Arlene E. Hall Service Award. The award was established in honor of the former director of academic affairs, who retired in 2012 after 36 years at the campus. The award is presented to a faculty member who has shown outstanding service in committee work, student advising, involvement in student affairs activities, and other service to the University, campus and community.
Students received academic honors for highest grade-point average in each major, as well as for earning membership in honor societies and honors programs. Student achievement honorees included Andrew Holodnik, the recipient of the Alle-Kiski Society's Penn State Spirit award and Craig Synan, who earned the title Lion Ambassador of the Year.
In athletics, Adam Stawski (golf) and Casey Cavannaugh (soccer, basketball and wrestling) were named Male Athletes of the Year and Tarra Oravec (softball) was selected as Female Athlete of the Year.

For a complete list of award recipients, visit

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Last Updated May 01, 2013