Office of Rural Health presents Undergraduate Student Achievement Award

April 06, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nicolas Jacoubs, an undergraduate student in the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA), is the recipient of the 2018 Jennifer S. Cwynar Community Achievement Award.

The award was presented on April 5, during the Annual Stanley P. Mayers Endowed Lecture at Penn State's University Park campus. Lisa Davis, director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) and outreach associate professor of HPA, presented the award.

The Jennifer S. Cwynar Community Achievement Award recognizes community achievement by a HPA senior undergraduate student who has demonstrated service and commitment to a community or an underserved population, preferably, but not exclusively, in a rural area of Pennsylvania.

The award was established in memory of Jennifer S. Cwynar, a 2008 HPA graduate  and a 2008 undergraduate intern at PORH.  The award is given in recognition of Cwynar’s commitment to community service, advocacy for underserved and rural populations, and focus on public health. The award is issued to a senior undergraduate HPA student who has advanced those commitments and is intended to encourage and foster personal and professional development.

PORH formed in 1991 as a joint partnership between the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Penn State. The office is one of 50 state offices of rural health in the nation funded under a program administered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is charged with being a source of coordination, technical assistance and networking; partnership development; and assisting in the recruitment and retention of health care providers. 

PORH provides expertise in the areas of rural health, agricultural health and safety, community and economic development, oral health, and other issues impacting the health status of rural residents. PORH is administratively housed in HPA in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State University Park.

Jacoubs, of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, was nominated by Diane Spokus, associate director of professional development in HPA. In her nomination, Spokus described Jacoubs as a great member of a team and as a competent and caring individual.

Spokus lauded Jacoubs for his achievements during his undergraduate internship at Boston Children’s Hospital.  During his internship, Jacoubs shadowed an emergency room physician and familiarized himself with submission of patient information into the hospital database.

Spokus also noted Jacoub’s dedication to service and volunteering, which include time volunteering with Signature Healthcare, where he shadowed an emergency room physician and experienced the realities of emergency health care. Jacoubs served as a media relations captain for Relay for Life of Penn State, family relations liaison for the ATO/ZTA organization for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), and is currently the ATO/ZTA chair for THON. Jacoubs organized the first “Taus and Tots” field day, which brought together brothers from the fraternity with at-risk children from the Centre County Youth Services program.

In his letter accompanying the nomination, Jacoubs noted his involvement with THON as having a positive impact on his life. “My experiences with THON have made me a better man and have shaped much of my college experience,” he said.

“We are very pleased to present this award to Nick Jacoubs and to honor the legacy of Jennifer Cwynar, who was an exceptional student and intern with our office,” Davis said. “This is one way in which we can encourage excellence in those who will become leaders in advocating for the health of vulnerable populations.”

To learn more about the Jennifer S. Cwynar Community Achievement Award and the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, visit

  • Nicolas Jacoubs portrait

    Nicolas Jacoubs

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 06, 2018