Education celebrates two student marshals for spring commencement

April 26, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Education has selected two outstanding students — Emma Morris and Taylor Marie Young — to serve as co-student marshals for Penn State's spring 2021 Commencement, which will be held as a joint ceremony with the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and the College of Information Sciences and Technology at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, in Beaver Stadium.

Virtual components of the commencement, including a video introducing all of the college’s program marshals as well as Morris and Young, can be found at this link online.

“To me, being student marshal means that all learners are capable of success when they are supported and provided with tools to meet their unique learning needs. Being named student marshal affirms that effort, hard work and authenticity are key attributes of a successful learner,” Morris said.

“I never saw myself as smart and often struggled in my early years of education, but I was determined not to let labels define me. When I came to Penn State, I set out to become a teacher and to learn the necessary skills to support children during their critical elementary years.”

Morris said she knew that if it weren't for the supportive individuals in her own life who helped her overcome barriers that she faced in school, her story would look very different.

“This motivated me in my studies and courses as I strove to be an empathetic, responsive and skilled teacher. I never anticipated being student marshal, and so I am incredibly honored by this meaningful recognition,” Morris said.

Young said being a student marshal in the College of Education is the greatest honor she’s ever received and is one that she does not take for granted.

“Throughout my undergraduate career, I’ve come to consider the College of Education as my home and those connected to it as my family. The relationships I’ve built, learning experiences I’ve benefited from, opportunities I’ve pursued, and support I’ve received have all enabled me to grow, embrace challenges, take risks and develop as a learner,” Young said.

“Without such genuine care and support from students, faculty and staff in the College of Education, I wouldn’t have had such a positive, enriching, transformative undergraduate experience. To be named a student marshal in a space that I value and feel valued in is an absolute honor, one that I will appreciate and hold close to my heart forever.”

Morris majored in elementary and early childhood education with a minor in special education. Her field experiences included a second-grade classroom at Benner Elementary in the Bellefonte Area School District, pre-K at Daybridge Child Development Center at Penn State, and The Arboretum at Penn State, where she was a Children’s Garden education intern. She has been a Kids’ Ministry director at Wellspring Church in State College since 2019 and has more than six years of experience in childcare.

She also has been a mentor with LifeLink PSU; a student leader for PSU Salt Company; a member of the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association (SPSEA); and a volunteer Sunday school teacher.

Morris has been on the Dean’s List every semester. She won the President’s Freshman Award (2018), the President Sparks Award (2019) and the Evan Pugh Scholar Award (2020). In addition, she was in the Freshman Honors Society, and in 2020 was elected as a member of the Penn State Pi Delta Chi Chapter of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honors Society.

After graduation, Morris plans to move to the Boston area, where her husband will be attending law school. In addition to having a Pennsylvania teaching license, she will work to complete the necessary requirements to be a licensed teacher in Massachusetts and pursue a full-time teaching position in the kindergarten to second-grade range. Eventually she plans to obtain a master's degree in a related field and become a teacher educator.

Young majored in secondary education English with minors in English and education policy studies. She also holds a certificate in teaching English as a second language and is a Schreyer Honors College scholar. She has been a part-time research associate with Associate Dean Rayne Sperling since 2019 and also worked as a research associate for faculty member Elizabeth Smolcic in 2019.

She served as a member of the Schreyer Honors College Student Council in 2017-18 and then became involved with the Education Student Council, serving first as its secretary (2018), then vice-president (2019) and finally president (2020). As vice president, she also was a liaison to the Education Graduate Student Council.

Her service experience includes being an undergraduate student representative to the Penn State Student Leaders Roundtable, the Academic Integrity Committee, the college’s dean search and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation Visit. She also was organizer for the College of Education Student Leaders Roundtable. She has been an undergraduate research ambassador and a Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) mentor. Her teaching experience includes teaching English as a second language in the Ecuador Immersion Experience, tutoring Spanish in public schools in State College and serving as an undergraduate learning assistant, among other experiences.

Young has been on the Dean’s List every semester. She received the President’s Freshman Award (2018), the President Sparks Award (2019) and the Evan Pugh Scholar Award (2020). In addition, she won the College of Education Undergraduate Student Leadership and Service Award (2020).

After graduation, Young will begin the doctoral program in educational psychology in Penn State’s College of Education. Over the summer, she will serve as a LEAP mentor to incoming first-year students.

Program marshals are:

  • Education and Public Policy: Noah Speitel
  • Elementary and Early Childhood Education: Morgane Gerard
  • Middle Level Education: Devon Preston
  • Rehabilitation and Human Services: Brian Seitz
  • Secondary Education: Sarah Losco
  • Special Education: Tess Fukuyama
  • World Languages Education: Elizabeth DeFelice
  • Workforce Education: Pamela Kenawell

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 27, 2021