Bringing the IST community together in support of THON

Megan Gent
February 18, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Kathleen (Katt) Shatinsky has been familiar with THON since she was young and remembers seeing students canning for money on her drives through Pennsylvania to visit family. But it wasn’t until her freshman year at Penn State that she realized how much she wanted to get involved. Today, Shatinsky now holds the title of president of IST Benefiting THON – a student organization that strives to bring the college’s community together to support Dance Marathon.

After joining the organization her freshman year, Shatinsky was hooked. She joined the executive committee her sophomore year as merchandise chair, became vice president her junior year, and now leads the organization as president as she simultaneously pursues a bachelor’s degree in information sciences and technology and a master’s degree in informatics through the college’s integrated undergraduate-graduate (IUG) program.

I jumped onto the executive board pretty early on, and I’ve really just been attached to the organization and to our (THON) families,” Shatinsky said. “I knew that dancing wasn’t right for me, so I felt that serving as president was one of the biggest ways I could give back to this organization that’s meant a lot to me, and has also meant a lot to our families.”

Shatinsky signed up for a few different THON organizations at the University-wide involvement fair on HUB Lawn her freshman year, but none of them seemed to be the right fit.

“I went to IST’s involvement fair the following week and saw that there was a THON table specifically for the college,” Shatinsky said. “I thought, ‘Oh perfect! I want to meet people that are in my major that I can learn from and then also get involved with THON.’ I felt incredibly welcome in the organization, and I knew I wanted to stick with it.”

IST Benefiting THON, made up entirely of students in the college, begins their THON fundraising efforts each year in the summertime and doesn’t stop until the dance marathon announces its final total in February.

After fundraising trips outside of State College became prohibited, the organization got creative with new ways to make money. Shatinsky said that the organization has shifted its focus to engaging the IST community – students, faculty and staff – to rally around THON’s mission.

“Most recently we held a Penny Wars fundraiser, students versus faculty versus staff, in the month of January, and that was one of the largest scale fundraisers that we’ve had during my time here,” Shatinsky said. “We raised just under $150 over the course of two weeks, which ended up being something like 20 pounds of spare change. It was incredible to see that much turnout from an initiative that we were trying for the first time this year.”

Along with balancing leading this organization and managing her academics, Shatinsky also works part time for Penn State’s Student Technology Services where she helps with tasks such as lab consulting, hardware repairs and tech support.

This year, (IST Benefiting THON has) had a smaller executive committee than we’ve had in years past, so a lot of my challenges have been taking on roles that we would normally delegate out a bit more,” Shatinksy said. “When you’re working part time, you’re kind of forced to build time into your schedule to take care of things and work around things so, THON and my classwork have fallen into place with that.”

IST Benefiting THON members are looking forward to spending time with their two THON families during the dance marathon weekend, as well as supporting their two selected dancers – Dana Kim (junior, security and risk analysis) and Ally Bardusch (senior, security and risk analysis) — who will represent the organization on the floor for the full 46 hours.

Shatinsky’s experiences the past three years have prepared her well for her role as president, so she said, “a lot of it’s just trying to keep my head on straight.”

I think I’m overwhelmed in one of the better senses of the word,” Shatinsky said. “It’s always felt doable, but it’s just a matter of managing THON, academics and the behind–the-scenes administrative things that you don’t really see beyond just fundraising.”

Members of the College of IST community interested in learning more about IST Benefiting THON are encouraged to reach out to Shatinsky at kbs5330@psu.edu, or visit the organization’s website at thon.ist.psu.edu.

Last Updated February 19, 2020