Abington honors student leaders for creating 'communities of excellence'

Penn State Abington leadership award 2023

Student Patrice Manasse received the prestigious Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award from Penn State Abington Chancellor Margo DelliCarpini.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington honored its student leaders for their accomplishments at the annual Awards and Leadership reception and ceremony. Led by Chancellor Margo DelliCarpini, the campus community recognized the students’ high standards and dedication.   

“Generally, people who do great work ... understand their roles and responsibilities in making a difference and their potential to change lives. They often seek out communities of similar people, and they create communities of excellence, as you are doing at Penn State Abington and in your own communities,” she said. 

Gina Kaufman, the director of Student Affairs, announced senior Patrice Manasse as the winner of the most prestigious award of the evening, the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award. It recognizes a student whose outstanding character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship have been directed into activities that have positively influenced other students and have contributed to the prestige and well-being of their campus and the reputation of the University as a whole.   

Manasse, a first-generation college student, has served as a peer counselor in the campus Counseling and Psychological Services office, where she also assisted with advertising, recruiting and program development. She is a member of the Afro-Caribbean organization on campus, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Abington Christian Fellowship, and she worked as a Lion Guide mentoring first-year students and as a resident assistant at the Lions Gate student apartment community. 

A nominator described Manasse as “a proactive and conscientious student who has been able to utilize and implement the counseling skills learned throughout her education at Penn State Abington in order to help others and connect to students of differing races, backgrounds and genders.” 

Off campus, she has volunteered with a homeless ministry and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  

Abigail Akande, assistant professor of rehabilitation and human services and chair of the Student Affairs Committee, introduced the winners of the coveted Exemplary Leadership Awards for their enthusiastic participation in their ventures on campus, academic success and leadership both on and off campus.   

The six 2023 winners of the Exemplary Leadership Awards are: 

  • Yash Amin, president of the South Asian Student Association (SASA) who works in the campus Office of Global Programs. He served as a research assistant in the undergraduate research program (ACURA), traveled to Ghana for embedded study, and volunteered during Alternative Spring Break to support people living without housing and combating food insecurity. A nominator wrote, “Yash’s respect for others, his seriousness of purpose, and his dedication to the success of SASA inspires his fellow SASA board members to also work for the good of the student members.” 

  • Kole Barclay, president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and chair of the Student Initiated Fee Board. He collaborates with administrators, lobbying for student senate legislation regarding sustainability, technology access/upgrades, language on syllabi, and support for Open and Affordable Educational Resources. A nominator wrote, “Kole manages conflicts and identifies resolutions, is dedicated to creating a welcoming and inclusive community, and thinks critically about what benefits his fellow students.” 

  • Kyleigh Byers, secretary of the SGA and a team leader in the campus undergraduate research program (ACURA). Her nominator wrote, “in class she is insightful and engaged, making interesting contributions to ... class discussions. Kyleigh skillfully relates class topics to real world examples.” 

  • Jenny Guo has held many roles in the SGA including secretary, treasurer and chair of the Appropriations Committee. She has been a voting member of the Student Initiated Fee Board, a member of the Abington Business Leaders Executive Council, a new student orientation leader, Student Engagement and Leadership support assistant, and a resident assistant at the Lions Gate student apartments. Guo’s nominator said she is “proactive, conscientious and seeks solutions. She is goal-oriented and accepts challenges as a learning experience.”  

  • Smit Patel, secretary for SASA and leader of the Peer Action Global Learning Network (PAGLN). At PAGLN, he assisted in planning and executing the International Student Welcome. Patel is the recipient of the University’s 2023 Ardeth and Norman Frisbey International Undergraduate Student Award. His nominator says, that his “empathy, ability to inspire and connect make Smit a great example of leadership. He is reliable, hard-working and passionate about global learning and sharing his culture.”  

  • Pegasus Yang, president of the Community Outreach Workers and a member of SASA. Yang has worked for PAGLN, helping to lead the International Student Orientation, and he became a peer mentor for international students and an ambassador for campus Global Programs. Pegasus was so successful as a peer mentor that he was assigned to work with the University’s World Campus students. His nominator said that “he lets others lead and practice their strengths while he is guiding them through that experience.” 

During a separate ceremony, the Penn State Sustainability Institute honored senior Re'naijah Purvis as one of the recipients of the 2023 Dr. John Roe Sustainability Impact Awards The selection committee had more than 64 nominations and determined that Purvis’ efforts embodied the exemplary actions that advance the Penn State Sustainable Development Goals while demonstrating an unwavering commitment to fostering justice and to strengthening partnerships. 

Purvis serves as a resident assistant in the University’s first living learning community focused on global sustainability, and last semester she discussed its impact on students at the Global Sustainable Action: It Starts With Us conference. Read more about Purvis' experiences here

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 more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.