Army veteran wins Penn State adult learner award

By Stef Davis
April 09, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Stephanie Vellucci grew up in a rural town and barely made it through high school. As a teenager, she fell in with the wrong crowd and struggled with a lack of motivation toward her education. But as time passed, she realized she wanted more for herself and wanted to make her family proud. She took steps to turn her life around.

Vellucci enlisted in the U.S. Army as an operating room technician, serving at U.S. posts and overseas. She assisted with surgeries and saved lives. Vellucci then knew she could make a difference.

She enrolled at Penn State as an adult learner in health policy and administration. She plans to graduate in May and hopes to become an administrator at a military medical center.

Between classes, Vellucci works at Starbucks. She co-founded “Starbucks Gives Back” to raise money for the Pennsylvania Wounded Warrior Project and Relay for Life. Her husband is in the Navy, active duty, and currently is in the NROTC. They have two young sons.

To recognize her academic accomplishments, Vellucci was recently named the 2014 recipient of the Penn State Outstanding Adult Student Award.

This award recognizes an exceptional adult learner at University Park campus who demonstrates initiative in overcoming obstacles to further their education.

Leslie A. Laing, assistant director for Adult Learner Programs and Services in the Division of Student Affairs, sponsors the award in partnership with Outreach and Online Education. She applauds Vellucci for her motivation.

“Stephanie is an exemplary model of academic success while juggling multiple roles, overcoming obstacles and demonstrating leadership,” Laing said. “She makes us Penn State Proud.”

Vellucci said, “Looking back on it, I’d do it all over again. I will have a degree, my children will still be healthy, and I’ll have completed a major step in my life. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Vellucci’s award includes an official Penn State diploma case and a $500 grant from the Adult Learner Opportunity Fund.

To contribute to this fund, visit In the drop down box, enter “XXTOF Adult Learner Opportunity Fund” or text ALPS to 50555 to give $10 to Renaissance Charitable Foundation benefiting the Penn State Adult Learner Program. (Reply with YES to confirm your donation. Charges will appear on your wireless bill or be deducted from your prepaid balance.)

  • U.S. Army veteran Stephanie Vellucci

    U.S. Army veteran Stephanie Vellucci (center), a senior majoring in health policy and administration, has won the 2014 Outstanding Adult Student Award. Also shown are Dennis Shea, associate dean for undergraduate studies and outreach, College of Health and Human Development, who nominated Vellucci for the award, and Leslie A. Laing, assistant director for Adult Learner Programs and Services,... Read more ›

    IMAGE: Penn State
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    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated April 09, 2014