Liberal Arts begins new peer advising program to assist first-year students

November 03, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of the Liberal Arts has established a new peer advising program through its Office of Undergraduate Advising. The selected peer advisers are current students in the College of the Liberal Arts who will provide first-year students with a connection to the college community, critical information to the transition to college and opportunities for social and academic engagement.

“We recognize this year is unlike any other year and that your first year has not been the typical first-year college experience,” said Greg Nolan, director of academic advising in the College of the Liberal Arts. “We hope you utilize the peer advisers to help you navigate your first year to make it the best possible experience.”

All first-year liberal arts students are in the Liberal Arts Class of 2024 non-credit course in Canvas. Throughout the fall semester, the college has used that course as a way to facilitate discussion among first-year students and to share videos and resources from various offices in the college, including Academic Advising, Academic Integrity, the Career Enrichment Network, Diversity and Inclusion and more.

Students should visit the Canvas course to connect with their peer advisers through a variety of academic and social programs that will take place online. The peer advisers will also hold weekly office hours where students can connect with them face-to-face through Zoom and get questions answered or just hang out.

Learn more about this new group of peer advisers below.

Kianna Bingham

Bingham is a junior majoring in African American studies and political science with minors in business and the liberal arts and Chinese language. She is the president of the National Council of Negro Women, a member of the Black Leadership Council and an associate for the Engineering – Consulting Collaborative. Bingham said her favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is the diversity of majors. She likes that she can meet someone in the same college and have vastly different interests. 

Claire Byrnes

Byrnes is a junior majoring in anthropology and geography. The Philadelphia native is involved in the Student Farm Club and Campus Orchestra. She is also a research assistant and an intern with the Liberal Arts Office of Digital Pedagogy and Scholarship. Byrnes said her favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is how supportive the college is of interdisciplinary work. She enjoys working with students from different majors and interests for research or within a club. 

Janiyah Davis 

Davis is a junior Paterno Fellow majoring in criminology with minors in anthropology, psychology, sociology and child maltreatment and advocacy studies. She is also earning a master of public policy degree. The Red Oak, Texas, native is a Liberal Arts Ambassador and a member of the Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team (SMART) and the Justice Association. Davis said her favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is how intertwined the fields of study are. She appreciates how similar but different they are because it gives her a great opportunity to connect with students studying in different fields. 

Cecilia Gong 

Gong is a junior majoring in economics and finance. The Changsha, China, native is involved in the Nittany Lion Fund, Global China Connection, Penn State Global Programs and the Penn State Economics Association. Gong said her favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is the networking opportunities that the college offers to students. Through the Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program, she has been able to connect with an alumnus and learn from his work experience. 

Annie Howard

Howard is a senior majoring in labor and human resources. She is also working on her master’s in human resources and employment relations through an integrated undergraduate-graduate (IUG) program. The Cape Cod, Massachusetts, native is active in Greek life and Penn State Athletics. She said her favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is the staff who can help get students where they need to be in order to succeed. “The college’s support for its students is unprecedented,” Howard said.   

Lexy Pathickal 

Pathickal is a senior majoring in political science with minors in economics and Spanish. The Yardley, Pennsylvania, native is the University Park Undergraduate Association student body vice president and involved in Lion Ambassadors and the University Park Student Fee Board. Pathickal said her favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is the countless connections you can make within the college that can last a lifetime. She’s gained valuable relationships in her time at Penn State from being a Liberal Arts student. 

Najee Rodriguez  

Rodriquez is a sophomore Paterno Fellow majoring in international politics and history. The Orlando, Florida, native is active in the University Park Undergraduate Association and the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council. Rodriquez said his favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is that it has provided him with so many opportunities and resources that he would never have found elsewhere. “From the advisers to the career development programs, your future is basically guaranteed. It’s really more than just a college — it’s a family too,” he said. 

Danniel Tigreros

Tigreros is a senior majoring in economics with minors in political science and French. The Mount Olive, New Jersey, native is involved in Greek life and advocacy groups such as GreeksCARE and Men Against Violence. Tigreros was an orientation leader this past summer. He said his favorite part about being a student in the College of the Liberal Arts is the opportunities available for growth. 

To learn more about academic advising in the College of the Liberal Arts, visit

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Last Updated November 03, 2020