Finding a balance between THON and engineering

Caitlin Gailey
February 16, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Ben Colasante came to Penn State, he knew very little about Penn State’s 46-hour dance marathon (THON), a student-run philanthropy dedicated to raising money for children and families impacted by pediatric cancer. Now a junior, he can’t imagine his college experience without it. 

Colasante is a civil engineering major with a focus on structures. His decision to pursue engineering came when he was in high school.

“I always enjoyed math and science, and I liked building things, so engineering was the best way to combine all of that,” said Colasante.

He hopes that someday his career will lead him to building stadiums and arenas. However, Colasante knows a career in sports is highly competitive and would enjoying working with skyscrapers in a large city as well.

Beyond managing his heavy course load, he is involved in the Kappa Sigma fraternity where he recently served on the executive board. It was because of his brothers that Colasante discovered a love for THON.

“When I joined Kappa Sig, all the other brothers were so involved in THON, so I went with it not knowing what to expect really,” said Colasante. “However, when I went to my first THON weekend, I had the time of my life. Seeing all the Four Diamonds kids in the Bryce Jordan Center made me want to get involved even more.”

Since then, Colasante has served on two Rules and Regulation committees (R&R). He has also continued to fundraise for Kappa Sigma and was recently elected the overall THON chairman for the fraternity for THON 2018.

As part of an R&R committee, Colasante, along with thousands of other students, is responsible for enforcing security procedures for THON weekend. Collectively, they ensure all participants are following the rules and that the event runs smoothly.

Preparation for THON weekend begins months in advance. The committee has weekly meetings that average two hours in length. Additional meetings are added throughout the semester as needed.

Being an engineering student and being involved in a THON committee is no easy task for Colasante. Both his major and committee involve serious time commitments, which can be overwhelming. Colasante spoke about how he manages it all.

“It’s a little tough but definitely doable,” he said. “I make sure I plan out my weeks and write down when all my assignments are due and when I have meetings so I can stay organized.”

Being an engineering student has even become an advantage for Colasante. Through civil engineering, Colasante has refined his time management and communication skills. He is able to more effectively manage his time preparing for THON and on weekends and finds it easier to communicate with spectators at the event.

Looking toward THON 2017, which takes place this weekend, Colasante is excited to see the THON families enjoying themselves and all his committee's hard work pay off.

“I always look forward to seeing all of the kids running around the Bryce Jordan Center,” he said. “THON weekend is for them, and it’s really cool to see them just be kids for a weekend.” 

  • Colasante and a friend at THON in 2015.

    Colasante (right) and a friend at THON in 2015.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 16, 2017