Sending a 'We Are!' to these Penn Staters

February 26, 2021

As part of our regular "We Are!" feature, we recognize ten Penn Staters who have gone above and beyond what's asked of them in their work at the University. Do you know someone who deserves a shout-out? If you do, consider taking a minute to nominate that person by filling out a short online form.

This week, we'd like say thank you on behalf of the entire University community to:

Stephanie Danette Preston, Associate Dean for Graduate Educational Equity, whose nominator wrote: "Dr. Preston works overtime to make sure students are treated fairly and have adequate resources. She makes herself available to students and listens to students concerns to find solutions to concerns. She is also the advisor to the Black Graduate Student Association."

Natalie Bennie, graduate student in the College of the Liberal Arts, whose nominator wrote: "Thank you to Natalie Bennie for being an outstanding graduate student in the Communication Arts and Sciences department!"

Erica Kunkel, staff member at Penn State Berks, whose nominator wrote: "Erica has taken on so many extra responsibilities during the pandemic, but still attentive to her roles before the pandemic. She is a wealth of information, level headed, keeps meetings on point, responsive, sincere and always has a positive attitude. I really appreciate her hard work! Thank you, Erica!"

Mary Beth Aber, staff member in the Smeal College of Business, whose nominator wrote: "Mary Beth is always championing student needs and supporting them in all of their endeavors outside of the classroom. Students and alumni seek her out regularly and benefit from her HUGE heart and willingness to always go the extra mile. WE ARE!"

Julie Evak, staff member in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, whose nominator wrote: "In the midst of COVID-19 updates, Julie is calm, cool and collected. She finds classrooms and updates LionPATH, responds to emails in the blink of an eye, finds answers to off-the-wall questions, and does it with a smile. On behalf of the Bellisario Academic Advisers: Thank You!"

Alexa Hodge, staff member at Penn State Berks, whose nominator wrote: "Ms. Alexa Hodge has been 100% invested in the success of her students since day one, both inside and outside the classroom and program she coordinates. She is always willing to listen and help students work through their issues to better reach their potential."

Andrea Hoerner, staff member at Penn State Harrisburg, whose nominator wrote: "Andrea has been a great support during the transition to SIMBA. She’s made herself available to train and guide colleagues, like myself, as we navigate transactions within the new system. Though her calendar is full, she always makes time to help others - even outside of her office. A true team player!"

Huilan Zhang, faculty member at Penn State Altoona, whose nominator wrote: "Professor Zhang was the nicest professor I have ever had. She is so kind and patient in explaining course content. Her teaching style is very good and she deserves recognition for all the hard work she puts into it!"

Caitlyn Catalfu, staff member at Penn State Behrend, whose nominator wrote: ""Caitlyn Catalfu is a true example of someone who cares for our students. Day in and day out, she gives 110% to the Engineering students at Behrend. She tirelessly creates a schedule that works for all and is their biggest cheerleader and supporter. 'We Are!' fortunate to have her on our campus."

Meghan Gonzales, staff member at Penn State Harrisburg, who was independently nominated by three separate individuals. They each wrote, respectively:

  • "Meghan has been very instrumental in keeping our PSU Harrisburg students involved as much as possible through many virtual activities, and is an advisor for our Programs and Activities Committee. She also did all of this while being a mother to three kids and earning her Master's Degree!"
  • "Meghan provides students at Harrisburg with virtual events that are high-energy and engaging, even while completing her Master’s and pivoting to the ever-changing policies around COVID-19. She plans fun, interactive events. She hosts them herself and brings contagious enthusiasm and a big smile, to all."
  • "Meghan is a true gem. She is always going above and beyond working to engage our students and make them feel welcomed and connected to campus. She puts love into everything she does as she truly wants the students to get the most out of their time at Penn State Harrisburg."

Thank you Stephanie, Natalie, Erica, Julie, Alexa, Andrea, Hulian, Caitlyn and Meghan — and to everyone who helps makes Penn State such an incredible community. We Are!

Last Updated February 26, 2021