Recipients of scholarships attend reception with President Barron

Alison Kuznitz
March 27, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Fulbright semi-finalists aspiring to teach English abroad mingled with Astronaut Scholarship nominees looking to make breakthroughs in the STEM fields.

Just feet away, DAAD RISE recipients who conducted research in Germany discussed cultural excursions with other students afforded fellowship opportunities.

Nearly 30 students attended the Academic Accomplishments and Fellowships Success Reception Wednesday night at the Schreyer House, the private residence of University President Eric Barron and first lady Molly Barron. 

“It’s a pleasure to have you here  — the incredibly successful people that you are,” President Barron said as he greeted the intimate gathering.  “You’re shining stars and examples of what Penn State aspires for in students. Thank you for all that you do.”

The undergraduate and graduate students were encouraged to wander through the Schreyer House, taking in its rich Penn State history. Originally built in 1928 by Judge H. Walton Mitchell of Allegheny County, it was reconstructed in the 1980s with funding from Bill and Joan Schreyer.

Having studied geology as an undergraduate at Penn State, Barron joked there were rocks on display everywhere — with some even in crystallized blue and white.

Between engaging in conversation with one another and perusing the various food stations, students were tasked with introducing themselves to the University president.

“We are extremely grateful to President Barron for welcoming these outstanding scholars into his home,” said Tanya Furman, associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education. “It was inspiring for the students to realize that he was once an undergraduate student with a passion for his discipline that led him into a career of life-long learning.”

Erika Pugh, a recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship, attended the event. For eight weeks last summer, she was enrolled in intensive grammar courses at a national research university in Russia. After long days in the classroom, she would catch up with a native language partner to further improve her fluency in Russian.

All the while, Pugh never spoke a word of English.

“I signed a language pledge,” said Pugh, a sophomore studying finance and Russian. “It could be frustrating when I needed something and didn’t know how to communicate it. But, it was an awesome experience.”

Meanwhile, attendee Abdoulaye Diallo spent his summer sailing through China’s Yangtze River, stopping at major cities like Shanghai and Beijing along the route. As part of the Gilman Scholarship Program, he took a class exploring the intersection of engineering and culture.

“We visited the Great Wall and saw the Three Gorges Dam. Then, we studied how the Chinese culture affected the way they built some of their biggest engineering feats,” said Diallo, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering.

Furman applauded the success of the reception, noting it allowed students to forge unique connections with their peers. “They all appreciated the chance to exchange stories and experiences with Dr. Barron,” she said.

To learn about scholarships and fellowships opportunities, visit the University Fellowships Office website.          

The University Fellowships Office is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated March 31, 2017