College of Health and Human Development names student marshals

April 26, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Gabrielle Matarazzo, daughter of Laura and John Matarazzo, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, will be the Health and Human Development college marshal for the spring 2017 commencement ceremony on May 6.

She is receiving a bachelor’s degree in biobehavioral health.

As college marshal, Matarazzo will represent all students graduating from the College of Health and Human Development. She will participate in the academic processional accompanied by faculty marshal Linda Wray, associate professor of biobehavioral health.

While at Penn State, Matarazzo served as vice president of the Health and Human Development Student Council and was the 2015-16 health and human development representative for the Biobehavioral Health Society.

She was a rules and regulations committee member for Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, a parade committee member for 2015 Homecoming, and an internal development captain for 2016 Homecoming. Matarazzo also tutored English to international students through the Mid-State Literacy Council and was a volunteer camp counselor for Camp Kesem.

Matarazzo is an employee at BioLife Plasma Services in State College and was an intern at UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She plans to attend the physician assistant program at Nova Southeastern University – Fort Lauderdale campus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Matarazzo received the Evan Pugh Junior and Senior Scholar Award and is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-medical honor society. She graduated in 2013 from New Castle Junior/Senior High School in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

The following students will serve as program marshals for the academic majors within the College of Health and Human Development.

Athletic training

Alysia Clawson, daughter of Kevin and Janet Clawson, of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, was a volunteer for Centre County Young Life where she mentored middle school children for four years.

Clawson was a member of the Penn State Athletic Training Club, through which she provided support for dancers in the training room during THON. She was an active member of Calvary Church, participating in events like "City Serve.”

She also was a member of the Health and Human Development Honor Society and received the Provost’s Award and Sayers J. “Bud” Miller Jr. Memorial Award. Clawson plans to attend Arcadia University for graduate school to pursue a doctoral degree in physical therapy.

Biobehavioral health

Meghan Paradise, daughter of Robert and Robin Paradise, of Macungie, Pennsylvania, served as a clinical services intern at University Health Services and volunteered at Mount Nittany Medical Center. She was a member of Lion Scouts and volunteered for THON as a member of the Donor and Alumni Relations Committee.

Paradise was a member of the 2015-16 College of Health and Human Development Women's Leadership Initiative and served the 2016-17 class as a member of the Internal Advisory Committee. She was a member of Mission Mexico, a service trip to an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, and studied for a summer in Seville, Spain. She also volunteered for the Centre County Special Olympics during the 2017 track and field season and helped facilitate the annual Geri Ryan track meet.

She is the recipient of several awards, including the Freshman President's Award and the President's Sparks Award. She also received an award from the Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Undergraduate Research Endowment in Biobehavioral Health and was a member of the Penn State Health and Human Development Honor Society and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society.

Paradise plans to pursue graduate school to become a physician assistant.

Communication sciences and disorders

Rachel Bennett, daughter of Pamela and Everett Bennett II, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, was a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, service chair and scholarship chair for Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, Undergraduate Student Clinician at Penn State’s Speech and Hearing Clinic, and member of the Schreyer Signature Travel Program to India.

She was the recipient of the Academic Excellence Scholarship and the John T. and Paige S. Smith Scholarship. A Schreyer Honors Scholar, Bennett conducted a thesis project, “EDEC Tool and Steps Intervention: Media intervention for children with complex communication needs.”

She plans to continue her education at Penn State by pursuing a master of science degree in speech-language pathology.

Health policy and administration

Geryn Ligator, daughter of Steve and Fern Ligator, of Melville, New York, was the president and family relations chair of Trilogy, a special interest THON organization; active member of Habitat for Humanity; orientation committee co-chair and community service co-chair of the Penn State Master of Health Administration Program; and secretary of the Penn State Health Policy and Administration Club.

She was also a member of the Health and Human Development Honor Society and Penn State National Society of Leadership and Success. During her junior year, Ligator studied at the University of Oxford and volunteered in London at a nonprofit that supported patients with breast cancer. She also spent time in Kingston, Jamaica, volunteering at health clinics and the Missionary of the Poor. 

Ligator is receiving both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree as part of a five-year program at Penn State. She plans to work at KPMG in the Healthcare Solutions Advisory practice.

Hospitality management

Natalia Rojas-Valois, daughter of Xenia Valois and Luis Rojas, of Miami, Florida, served as tour guide and general member of the Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team, peer mentor for BLUEprint Peer Mentoring, and chapter president, chapter secretary, and national chair for the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH).

Rojas-Valois also was a member of Eta Sigma Delta, a hospitality honor society. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Bunton-Waller Fellowship, Starwood NSMH Student Scholarship, Way Pavers Award from the Council of College Multicultural Leadership, Hancock Family Trustee Scholarship, O’Haren Family Trustee Scholarship, and SMART Member of the Year.

Rojas-Valois plans to begin her career at the W Boston as a rooms management trainee.

Human development and family studies

Meredith Atanasio, daughter of Steven Atanasio and Kathleen Schaefer, of Port Matilda, Pennsylvania, was a member of the American Association of University Women through which she served as fellowship chair and was an undergraduate research assistant for Project SIESTA.

A Schreyer Honors Scholar, Atanasio conducted a thesis project, “Paternal anxiety and depressive symptoms: Linkages with paternal bedtime emotional availability and maternal and paternal co-parenting quality.”

She plans to first pursue personal interests outside the academic realm with hopes of one day returning to the field in pursuit of more educational opportunities.


Melissa Minniti, daughter of Ronaldo Minniti and Leticia Pibida, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, was secretary, alumni relations and professional development chair, and Relay for Life chair for the Penn State Kinesiology Club.

She also was student representative for the Penn State Department of Kinesiology Diversity and Climate Committee, Division I tennis player at Penn State for two years, and captain of the Penn State Tennis Club. She worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Penn State Biomechanics Research Laboratory and helped coordinate events for Exercise is Medicine Week.

She received several awards, including the Student Service Award and the Student Excellence Award from the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society, the Kinesiology Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Development, the Fasola Family Trustee Schreyer Scholarship, Bunton-Waller Fellowship, and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award.

A Schreyer Honors Scholar, Minniti conducted a thesis project, “Contributions of Movement Variability to Avoiding Impingement in Total Hip Replacement.” She will be attending Duke University School of Medicine to earn a doctorate degree in physical therapy.

Nutritional sciences

Quinci Peri, daughter of James and Michele Peri, of Clifton, New Jersey, was an undergraduate teaching assistant for NUTR 120, Science and Methods of Food Preparation, and NUTR 358, Assessment of Nutritional Status.

She was also a peer educator for University Health Services, president and secretary for the Penn State Fitness and Bodybuilding Club, and formal recruitment philanthropy round chair for Sigma Kappa Sorority, Theta Psi Chapter. Peri received the Genevieve P. Ho Award in Nutrition in the College of Health and Human Development.

In the summer, she will begin an 11-month dietetic internship at Virginia Commonwealth University where she will complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice within her field. Upon completion, she plans to take the exam to become a registered dietitian so she can begin practicing as a licensed nutrition professional.

Recreation, park, and tourism management

Marissa Rosensteel, daughter of Paul and Karen Rosensteel, of Duncansville, Pennsylvania, served as an event management intern with Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics for seven years, through which she prepared and maintained game-day operations for 15 varsity athletic teams and helped plan NCAA, Big Ten, and high school championships hosted at University Park.

Rosensteel also served as volunteer coordinator for the 2014 Women’s Basketball Tournament, PIAA Softball Championships, and Coquese’s Drive. She also served as tournament operations assistant for the Heritage Classic Foundation and peer mentor for RPTM 356, Programming in Recreation Services.

She is recipient of the Class of 1922 Memorial Scholarship and the Student Excellence Award for Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management from the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society. She plans to pursue a career in professional or collegiate athletic event management. 

  • Gabrielle Matarazzo headshot
    IMAGE: Photo provided

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Last Updated April 26, 2017