Students receive first Mockingbird Award given in memory of late student

July 06, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two Penn State students are the first recipients of the Mockingbird Award, supported by the family of William H. Denton, who died in January while a Penn State student studying health policy and administration.

Vanna Lee and Alexandra Tiano, both students studying health policy and administration who graduated in May, are the first recipients of the award. Lee and Tiano received the awards in the spring during the Health Policy and Administration Senior Showcase held at the Nittany Lion Inn.

Diane Spokus, associate teaching professor and associate director of HPA undergraduate professional development, and Hannah Ross, an undergraduate HPA student, created the award. Christopher Hollenbeak, head of the Department of Health Policy and Administration, presented the award.

Department of Health Policy and Administration faculty members and students, who were friends with Denton, also supported the award.

The Mockingbird Award recognizes students in HPA who have served as a role model for the Penn State community by engaging in activities that improve the welfare of others and who promote the welfare of others by increasing awareness or enhancing the understanding of a social injustice.

The award is given in memory of Denton, a 19-year-old Penn State student who died Jan. 7. The award is named in honor of Denton’s favorite novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Vanna Lee wearing graduation gown

Vanna Lee received the Mockingbird Award, supported by the family of William H. Denton, who died in January while a Penn State student studying health policy and administration.

IMAGE: Photo Provided

Lee was the president of the Lion’s Pantry, a student-run food pantry at University Park, which addresses the issue of hunger among in-need and at-risk students at Penn State.

“The most rewarding part of serving as president of the Lion’s Pantry was seeing the growth of the organization, and impact on the Penn State community,” Lee said. “I would like to thank all of the students, faculty and alumni for their continued support. The Mockingbird Award will carry on Will’s spirit. It is an honor to receive recognition and be a recipient of this award.”

Alexandra Tiano in graduation gown

Alexandra Tiano received the Mockingbird Award, supported by the family of William H. Denton, who died in January while a Penn State student studying health policy and administration.

IMAGE: Photo Provided

Tiano served as vice president of the Penn State chapter of the American College of Health Care Administrators, which focuses on long-term care. Recently, she organized, collected and distributed more than 80 gifts to socially isolated seniors through a retirement community in the region.

“I was so pleased to receive the Mockingbird Award in honor of Will Denton,” Tiano said. “It’s a pleasure knowing my hard work was recognized, and the scholarship will help me transition into the real world as I move to Philadelphia for my job.”

  • William Denton outside

    William H. Denton died in January while a student studying health policy and administration at Penn State.  

    IMAGE: Photo Provided

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 23, 2018