Outstanding Adult Student Award recipient announced

May 22, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Adult Learner Programs and Services, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs, announced the recipients for the 2020 Outstanding Adult Student Award. The Outstanding Adult Student Award recognizes an exceptional adult learner or student veteran at University Park who has overcome obstacles while furthering his or her education. Nominees balance multiple roles, serve as role models for other students and achieve academically.

Divine Lipscomb, Rehabilitation and Human Services, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Adult Student Award. Lipscomb will receive a grant and diploma case.  

“Divine has faced many personal and academic challenges. He generously spends his time representing the incarcerated and those in recovery. He assists faculty, staff members and fellow students in our Penn State community. He is using his life to make a difference for so many others, and that makes us Penn State Proud,” said Leslie Laing, director of Adult Learner Programs and Services and founder of the award.

In addition to being a student, Lipscomb is a husband and father. Lipscomb also works on campus as a special projects coordinator for the Restorative Justice Initiative in the College of Education, where he creates dialogue around intersections of race, institutional barriers and trauma before and after incarceration. He is the founder of a nonprofit that uses mentorship and support groups to aid re-entry efforts. Lipscomb has worked diligently to overcome financial hardship, family disruption and homelessness. As someone formerly incarcerated and in long-term recovery, Divine Lipscomb has also been recognized as this year’s Rock Ethics Stand Up Award winner.

All of the nominees for the Outstanding Adult Student Award were honored in a video recognition. Nominees included:

  • Prince Koomson (runner up and grant recipient) — Majoring in mathematics, Koomson was born in Ghana and migrated to the U.S. with two siblings. He enlisted in the Navy and served 5 years, then resumed his studies through ROTC, made Dean’s List, and is one out of 50 selected to attend flight school. 
  • Shawn Jacobs — Majoring in global and international studies, Jacobs is a husband and father, served 12 years active duty in the Air Force and Pennsylvania Air National Guard, and accepted a position as a non-commissioned officer in charge of intelligence training.
  • David Witmer — Majoring in philosophy and English with a Jewish and religious studies minor, Witmer is a first-generation college student, a veteran of the Marine Corps, and served four years as a certified ground electronic maintenance technician in California.
  • Joshua Wolfert – Majoring in labor and employment relations, Wolfert served 10 years in the U.S. Air Force as a meteorologist.  
  • Hans Park — Majoring in English literature, Park is a first-generation Korean-American immigrant and McNair scholar, student-teaches English 15 and mentors other internationals. He found a new passion for research, assisting with a project in Brazil; and won a prize for fiction.
  • Brock Tindall — Majoring in food science, Tindall began as a part-time student through World Campus, and also attended the Mont Alto campus before coming to University Park.  
  • Chulwoo Kim — Majoring in mathematics, Kim served in the Army Reserves for four years, was a transfer student, and a member of the Korean Student Association and Actuarial Science Club.

“During these times of social distancing, it is especially important to recognize the achievements of adult learners and the contributions they make to our Penn State community," said Laing. "Our nontraditional students face unique challenges and obstacles every day, each story of success fuels our community and sustains our hope. I commend them all for taking the road less traveled to further their education, improve their life circumstances and for striving to impact our community."

Grants for the award recipient are provided through the Adult Learner Opportunity Fund. To support the next generation of adult and veteran students, please consider making a donation to the fund by calling 1-888-800-9163 or making a gift online.

Last Updated May 22, 2020