Skip to main content

SGA celebrates 2020-21 lineup of all-star classmates, employees

As the academic year draws to a close, a fitting opportunity for the Penn College community to catch its collective breath after a tempestuous 2020-21, the Student Government Association recaps its monthly student and faculty/staff honorees.

Students of the Month

Delaney E. HellerDelaney E. Heller
Cogan Station
Applied management
Delaney E. Heller, whose diagnosis of a rare brain cancer launched a children’s nonprofit, was September’s honoree.

“Her story is one of strength, courage and perseverance,” a college employee wrote. “Delaney has beaten the odds just by simply being alive, let alone being enrolled in college.”

Heller was diagnosed in 2011 with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, one of the deadliest of all childhood cancers, with only a 1 to 2% survival rate after the first year. She has turned that downbeat prognosis into positive action, forming the Delaney Heller Foundation and initiating auctions and other events to raise money for the fight against pediatric cancer.

Her nominator also noted Heller’s talent with baked goods – especially cupcakes, characterized as “hands-down, the best you will ever taste!”


Danielle E. MaleskyDanielle E. Malesky
Construction management
October’s selection was Danielle E. Malesky, whose top-notch academics are manifested in service as a Resident Assistant and Presidential Student Ambassador.

She is also very active in the Construction Management Association, a fact not lost on her student nominator: “Danielle has shown … that she is committed to learning and helping others. She is highly active within the club and also runs a freshman mentoring session. She helps the freshmen weekly (with) the material in our major, which can be hard to understand our first year.”

Malesky also participated on one of the two Penn College teams that won first prize in the Associated Schools of Construction Region 1 Student Competition, held remotely last fall.

“Those teams put in a lot of work throughout the year,” a fellow member wrote. “So, at this point, I believe she spends just about every minute either helping somebody in our major or improving herself.”


Cody D. SmithCody D. Smith
Business management
Cody D. Smith, whose many hats include that of a Navy veteran, was chosen as Student of the Month in November.

“Being a full-time employee and juggling school takes up the majority of his time. But when he does have free time, he spends it with his son – a brilliant 8-year-old boy – teaching his child everyday life,” according to his student nominator. “He spends much of his time exercising to help boost his mental/physical health. He also enjoys hiking, and is an artist. He tie-dyes clothes, tapestries, anything … and he teaches others how to, as well.”

Smith served his country from 2011-16, and now shows that same commitment to his job and to his studies.

“He struggles … at times,” his proud advocate wrote, “but is still able to keep a positive outlook on life while juggling work, raising a child and exceeding in his academics here at Penn College.”


Constance J. PlankenhornConstance J. Plankenhorn
Physician assistant studies
The leadership qualities of Constance J. Plankenhorn, president of the Physician Assistant Club and the Alpha Chi honor society for four-year students made her a favorite in December/January slot.

She is also a member of the Loyalsock Volunteer Fire Department, where she responds to emergency medical service and fire calls, and is a paid emergency medical technician (having worked EMT instruction into her demanding physician assistant coursework). Since enrolling at Penn College in 2017, she has been on the Dean’s List every semester.

“In addition to her own academic success, she has shown a commitment to others’ success (by) serving as a tutor of chemistry and biology,” said her nominator, a member of the School of Nursing & Health Sciences staff. “She has shown great leadership from her first semester, when she attended the Leadership Boot Camp, to currently taking on roles of leadership in the college and the community.”

Along with PA classes, the nominator added, Plankenhorn is taking firefighter courses to advance in her volunteer role with the fire company. “These accomplishments show just how driven and committed Connie is,” she said.


Grace E. PeifferGrace E. Peiffer
State College
Applied health studies: radiography concentration
February’s honoree was Grace E. Peiffer, an executive officer in the Medical Imaging Club and an SGA senator representing the School of Nursing & Health Sciences. She additionally serves as a tutor, helping both levels of in-program radiography students.

“While serving as a tutor, Grace does more than just tutor,” a school employee said. “She also mentors students by encouraging them with tips and tricks for clinical and classes, making them more confident in their role as Nursing & Health Science students.”

Prior to attending classes at Penn College, Peiffer performed undergraduate research at Penn State, “which demonstrates her thirst for knowledge and commitment to academics.

“(She) is a highly motivated radiography student who strives for academic excellence,” Peiffer’s  nominator continued. “She has consistently achieved Dean’s List while enrolled in a demanding health science program with a challenging schedule. Her schedule includes 16 hours of clinical rotations per week on top of radiography … and the time spent studying for those classes.”


Joey M. MorrinJoey M. Morrin
Graphic design
The impressive resume of Joey M. Morrin, the final Student of the Month selection of the year, offers a template for campus involvement – a commendable mix of academics, extracurricular activities and leadership.

He is a Presidential Student Ambassador and Resident Assistant, has worked as a Connections Link and Summer Conference Assistant, and has played on the tennis team. He has also participated in Study Abroad trips and was the subject of a feature article in the Fall 2019 issue of Penn College Magazine, has offered his design skills to the Office of Student Engagement as part of the Yellow It Out Committee, and has served on the Leadership Panel.

In November 2019, Morrin created a unique, hands-on interaction to engage potential student leaders. Called Weed ’em Out, the effort offered a succulents potting station in Dauphin Hall; the activity won the Outstanding Program of the Year award for 2019-20. He has offered encouragement to potential students considering the graphic design major through various outreach efforts, including participating in a Zoom roundtable discussion hosted by faculty member Nick Stephenson.

“During his years here, Joey has immersed himself in all things Penn College and offered his assistance to numerous departments in numerous ways,” his staff nominator wrote. “He is always upbeat, engaged and willing to offer a helping hand or his creative abilities, which are vast as a graphic design student.

“He has offered novel ways to approach student outreach and engagement. He has demonstrated leadership, commitment and compassion. He is one of those students who has made a lasting impact on campus and will be dearly missed when he graduates, but I have no doubt he’ll be among our outstanding alumni who remain engaged as part of our college family.”

Student of the Month honors are bestowed by SGA numerous times each academic year based on nominees’ commitment, service, role-model behavior, academics, leadership and campus involvement.


Faculty/Staff of the Month

Craig A. MillerCraig A. Miller
Associate professor of history/political science
Selected as February’s faculty honoree, Craig A. Miller was characterized by a student as “one of the most brilliant professors and exceptional individuals I have had the pleasure of learning with during my Penn College career. I do not study in a field even tangentially related to international relations, yet his course … was one of the most engaging and memorable educational experiences I have had at Penn College, and nevertheless provide numerous valuable lessons I continue to apply today.”

His nominator went on to note Miller’s “integral and exemplary role” in hosting stimulating open conversations on a range of pertinent topics, chairing College Council, and supporting student ideas and efforts.

“He generously makes himself available to students to support their ideas and provide counsel – even if they aren’t currently enrolled in his courses. For example this semester, at the request of myself and another student, he helped create and lead a new legal book club to help us prepare for entering the legal field after graduation. I admire the depth of Dr. Miller’s knowledge, his passion for helping students, his orientation toward public service, (and) the way he conducts himself as a servant leader.”


Katie L. MackeyKatie L. Mackey
Assistant director of disability services
Chosen as February’s staff favorite among students, Katie L. Mackey “is one of the most outstanding and inspiring individuals I have met. (She) constantly provides compassionate support to all those in her orbit, regardless of whether they are students, staff or otherwise.”

Exceeding the scope of her job, the nominator wrote, Mackey regularly goes above and beyond to help both students and the institution succeed.

“In a bleak chapter early in my college career, she let me weep in her office for almost an hour and provided empathetic, unjudging support and counsel, checked in often afterwards, and subsequently made sure I made it to Counseling Services,” the student related. “She is always supportive of novel ideas, treats everyone with kindness and respect, and shines brighter than almost anyone I’ve met here.”


Jeanne M. KerschnerJeanne M. Kerschner
Director of the occupational therapy assistant program
Students selected Jeanne M. Kerschner as the faculty honoree for March, subscribing to a “less is more” strategy in filling out the award paperwork.

“She is always willing to go above and beyond for her students,” the short-and-sweet nomination reads.

Brevity aside, though, is there really any better endorsement on a college campus?


Anthony J. PaceAnthony J. Pace
Dean of academic operations
Anthony J. Pace, better known on campus by last name alone, was called “a visionary and selfless leader who serves Penn College with distinction” when he was selected as the staff recipient for March.

“One of my earliest experiences with Pace was through my participation in Penn College’s Youth Leadership Program in my junior year of high school,” an appreciative student said. “I was impressed by his trademark combination of empathy, wisdom and passion that he demonstrated as a yearlong instructor and facilitator. Knowing that kind and brilliant people like Pace composed the Penn College community was one of the affirming factors in my decision to enroll not long after that program ended.”

He subsequently was encouraged by Pace to join student government and to apply as a Connections Link – reinforcing his confidence, molding his path, guiding his journey and refining his ideas.

“Pace exceeds his job description and invests deeply and persistently in his community, in the students and peers that enter his orbit, and in the manifold roles he inhabits (from SGA adviser to student activities director to dean of academic operations),” he wrote. “Pace has undoubtedly touched countless lives through his service to Penn College and will continue doing so.”

SGA recently added those categories to its award program, acknowledging employees who positively influence the Penn College community through commitment; service; role-model behavior; and improvement in academics, leadership and/or involvement.

Subscribe to PCToday Daily Email.