Student focuses only on Penn State and finds endless opportunity

November 18, 2019

Olivia Catena purposefully limited her options as a prospective college student by applying to just one school.

Once accepted and on campus at Penn State, though, she found no limits. So, she embraced numerous opportunities and thrived as a result.

“I’ve been coming to Homecoming since I was 5 years old. As soon as I understood what a college was, I knew I wanted to go to Penn State,” she said. “At first, I was thinking the sciences, or maybe a physician’s assistant. But my junior year of high school I took an AP language class and loved my teacher and the class. That’s when I started looking into communications and found out how amazing it is here.”

Catena, an advertising/public relations major from Rochester, New York, was selected as student marshal for the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications for the fall semester based on her combination of academic and extracurricular success. She’ll represent the Bellisario College at commencement exercises Dec. 21 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

She shared the news with her family — mother and father Andrea and John, older sister Julia and younger brother Jack — in a group text shortly after she was officially notified.

Along with her bachelor’s degree, Catena completed a minor in digital media trends and analytics, and certificates in sports administration and sports journalism.

A Schreyer Honors Scholar, she was an executive board member of the Penn State chapter of the Association for Women in Sports Media and a hospitality captain for the Penn State Dance Marathon. Catena completed internships with Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, Heinz Field and the State College Spikes. She plans on working in sports communications for a team or a league office after graduation.

“I think I’ve been able to take advantage of things Penn State has been able to offer me. I tell my mom I’m so happy I chose Penn State because no other school could’ve given the me the opportunities I’ve had here. The challenges and connections have made me who I am and, I think, prepared me well.”

Catena’s mother and sister earned degrees from the University. Her brother is a junior in high school who is considering Penn State as well.

Catena will be escorted at commencement by John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society and director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.

Last Updated November 18, 2019