Abington student credits intensive summer program for success, early graduation

A high-achieving Penn State Abington student will graduate a semester early this week, crediting the academic and financial support she received through Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) and several scholarships for her success. 

Viana Zamis maintains that PaSSS, a six-week program for incoming first year students at Abington, gave her a head start on her college career.  

“PaSSS helped me connect with other students and with academics. It raised my confidence. My transition from high school to college was smoother,” Zamis, who will receive her degree in rehabilitation and human services, said. 

“PaSSS was where it all began on my path to success at Penn State Abington,” she said. 

Through PaSSS, Zamis was eligible to obtain employment on campus. She accepted a position in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, a post she held for three years. She also worked as a PaSSS peer mentor for other first-year students.  

“I enjoyed working with the first-year students, supporting them and sharing my experiences. It helped me improve my leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. My message to them was: This is your time, your investment so make use of it,” she said.  

She worked on a six-week college immersion experience for Latino high school students from Philadelphia through a program Abington hosts with Congreso de Latinos Unidos. 

“Congreso was a great experience, from translating my peer mentoring skills and gaining new skills to helping the students, supporting them and maintaining a fun, positive learning environment,” she said. 

Zamis was the recipient of several scholarships at Abington including a Korman Promise Scholarship, endowed by longtime Abington supporter Steve Korman. As part of the Complete Penn State initiative, she received a scholarship endowed by Lorraine C. Basara as well as two Open Doors Scholarships, one endowed by Ira Lubert and the other by Ajay and P. Nair.  

“I am thankful to the donors for investing in my education, providing me assurance that people are rooting for me to succeed,” she said.  

Abington is so diverse. We embrace our differences and connect through our similarities.

—Viana Zamis , Class of 2021

During her time at Abington, Zamis attended leadership training sponsored by Student Affairs and was selected for a social justice-focused Alternative Spring Break placement in Washington, D.C., where she worked in a local soup kitchen with other students. 

She encourages Abington students to take advantage of co-curricular opportunities on campus. Her experiences participating in the Student Philanthropy Council, African Student Organization, and Sister2Sister helped her build rapport with others and develop professional skills.  

Zamis hailed two Abington rehabilitation and human services faculty, Michael Levetsky and Anthony Strazza, who served as her mentors. 

“They were very supportive and always responsive. They helped me to succeed within the major and beyond with great counsel and provided me with the necessary resources,” she said. 

Zamis, who was born in Haiti, plans on a career in social work, focusing on families and children with mental health issues. To supplement her degree, she completed a certificate in chemical dependency prevention and counseling through the campus’ Office of Continuing Education

“It is innate in me to help people. I want to improve people’s lives. I want to have an impact on people, let them have hope and improve their well-being,” she said. 

As she prepares to graduate, Zemis reflected on why Abington was her first choice for college. 

“Abington is small, it is beautiful, and there is always something happening. You meet different people from different backgrounds and connect with them and have great conversations with them. Although I was a commuter student, I received a quality college experience,” she said. 

Zamis embraced her college experience, and she is thankful for her time at Abington.  

“Abington provided me with different perspectives. Abington is so diverse. We embrace our differences and connect through our similarities,” she said. “My heart is filled with gratitude.” 

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With about 3,700 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 23 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.