Abington's outstanding graduate Cataldo-future as bright as her smile

Do you know someone who can literally light-up a room with a bright smile and engaging personality? Someone who can make a stranger feel at home in an unfamiliar place? Penn State Abington was lucky enough to have Angelisa Cataldo, 21, light up the campus for the past four years while she was earning her bachelor of science degree in business. In a recent interview, Cataldo reflected upon her years at Penn State Abington and enthusiastically attributed the campus community with her personal transformation from shy girl to extrovert.

Although Cataldo could have gone directly to University Park for her undergraduate degree, she chose to study at Abington to be close to her home and her horse, Mozart. Cataldo is a competitive equestrian, show-jumping from the Catskill Mountains in the summertime to Palm Beach during the winter. Her decision to attend Abington all four years enabled her to continue her show-jumping travels and still earn that Penn State degree.

Cataldo had much success both academically and socially while studying at Penn State Abington. She graduated in the top .5 percent of her class, was a member of the Schreyer Honors College, received the Exemplary Leadership award, and was the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Eric A. and Josephine Walker Award -- quite a feat for a third-year student. Cataldo was co-valedictorian and an executive officer of the 2011 graduating class, an active fundraiser for “Campout for Hunger” -- just one of many volunteer activities, as well as the president of the gregarious campus leaders, Lion Ambassadors.

According to Erica Pulaski, associate director of enrollment management and retention and the adviser for Lion Ambassadors, Cataldo was all that and more:

“Angelisa is a hard worker, a fast learner, very self-motivated, not afraid to express her opinions and ideas, and extremely driven to be a success in everything she faces. She wears a radiant smile on her face, and her laugh is infectious. It is impossible not to like her and undeniable that she is a bright and passionate young woman. She is an inspiration, and you can't help but respect and adore her. I have been blessed to know her, honored to be her Lion Ambassador adviser, and so proud to have her represent our campus to the world.”

But, Cataldo wasn’t always the extrovert she is today. At Central Bucks East High School, she claims she was shy, quiet and didn’t get involved with people or activities.

“Penn State Abington completely transformed my life. In high school I wasn’t involved at all. I didn’t know who I was. I came here and was embraced by the community here. I found out what I love and found out who I am.”

And what she loves is public speaking, which she discovered through her participation with Lion Ambassadors.

“That (Lion Ambassadors) has been a huge part of my college experience. I do a lot of public speaking engagements for the school. Last year, I even spoke with Graham Spanier at an alumni event. I’ve been really fortunate here. I’ve been able to take advantage of a lot of opportunities that I’m really grateful for. Before I came here, I had no idea that I could even do public speaking let alone enjoy it.”

Cataldo’s best advice to students still roaming the wooded paths of Penn State Abington is to get involved with clubs and activities.

“Penn State Abington is way more than education. I’ve lived it. Get involved…that is where you truly learn.”

Cataldo’s future plans? Besides working at John P. Cataldo Jr. & Associates, P.C. -- her family’s accounting firm located in Jamison -- every free minute will be spent at horse shows and studying for the upcoming CPA exam. Eventually, she would like to get her master's of business administration from the University of Pennsylvania and, ultimately, become a professor of accounting and teach at none other than her alma mater, Penn State Abington.