Engineering student holds key role in ensuring a successful THON

Jamie Oberdick
February 20, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Before classes began in her first year, Rebecca Aloi, senior in chemical engineering, attended a Penn State Women in Engineering Program Orientation. This was not just her first step toward a career in engineering, but also a first step to becoming a leader for the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. 

Aloi’s upperclassman mentor at the event told her all about how much she loved being involved in THON, the student-run, 46-hour dance marathon that benefits Four Diamonds for pediatric cancer patient care and research at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. Aloi's mentor suggested Aloi get involved with THON as well.  

“I took her word for it and decided to apply,” Aloi said. “I was trying to find my place on campus and becoming involved with a THON committee was just the beginning. I was chosen to be a part of the Rules and Regulations Fundraising Safety committee, and the year-long experience changed my life.” 

Today, Aloi is a member of the executive committee, serving as director of the Rules and Regulations Fundraising Safety committee for the 2020 THON, to be held Feb. 21-23 at the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus. According to Aloi, this role is a behind-the-scenes function that is vital to THON success, one that is perfect for someone with the analytical mind of an engineering student.  

One of Aloi’s responsibilities is to make sure official policies listed in the THON rulebook are easily understandable and to work with fellow executive committee members throughout the year to determine if any updates are required. She also makes sure that the rules are enforced to ensure the consistency and integrity of all THON-related activities.   

Aloi also manages the administration and implementation of THON’s online fundraising platform, DonorDrive, collaborating with Penn State Development, Four Diamonds and the DonorDrive staff to enhance the platform as needed. She also partners with THON volunteers serving as Online Giving Captains to develop strategies for improving online fundraising success for the THON community. In addition, Aloi ensures all fundraising events, canvassing trips and donation box placements comply with the regulations set forth in the THON rulebook. Finally, she helps prepare THON fundraising outreach liaisons to offer any needed support to student organizations as they raise money.   

“Then during THON weekend, I work with the director responsible for event safety and their captains to ensure the safety of all dancers, Four Diamonds families, guests and spectators,” Aloi said. “Both of our committees lean on each other in times of challenges during THON weekend and we work together to solve any problem that comes our way.” 

According to Aloi, the challenge of fitting a leadership role in a large student organization into her academic engineering schedule was actually a benefit.  

“In the past three years, I have learned a lot about myself as an individual and how I learn best,” Aloi said. “I have developed time-management skills and I discovered that I work better when I have a lot of different things going on. It forces me to focus on one task at a time until it is completed. And the routines I’ve developed have truly helped me to successfully complete all my tasks at hand.”

In addition, she also credits her personal support system for helping her handle a busy senior year. 

“The past three years I have had the unwavering support of some of my best friends who are also in chemical engineering,” Aloi said.  

Aloi’s said that THON has given her many favorite memories that she says will last long after she graduates.  

“My favorite THON memory changes every year, but currently it is from THON Weekend 2019, and it is when I saw the line dance for the first time from the upper bowl of the Bryce Jordan Center,” she said. “It was really amazing to see everyone dancing in unison for a common cause. It truly symbolized that it doesn’t matter your background or organization, we are all dedicated to this amazing cause and are there for one reason.”

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Last Updated February 20, 2020