The Presidential Leadership Academy selects the class of 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – State of Pennsylvania Presidential Leadership Academy (PLA) has announced the appointment of its new members for its class of 2017. Thirty students from the University Park campus will begin their involvement in the three-year program this coming fall. Founded with a principal gift from Edward R. and Helen S. Hintz in 2009, the PLA was established with the aim of developing critical thinking skills and educating students to understand problems at large taking into account the complexity and variability of problems, decisions and life circumstances.

Seventeen men and 13 women make up this new class and represent 11 of Penn State’s 12 undergraduate colleges. Fifteen students from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, three from Virginia, two from New Jersey, two from New York, two from Massachusetts, two from California and one from Georgia join students from Iran, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

New PLA members have varied interests, ranging from internship with US representatives to working in research labs like the Perry Anthropological Genomics Laboratory, the Paulson Laboratory, and the PIKE Research Lab; participation in organizations like THON, the Schreyer Honors College Student Council, the Millennium Scholars Program or the varsity men’s volleyball team. They volunteer at places like Center County PAWS and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center and participate in Army ROTC, Global Medical Brigades, and Pennharmonics.

“We are delighted that students want to be a part of the Presidential Leadership Academy, and the drive and determination of this group of freshmen was evident in the quality of the applications,” said Melissa Doberstein, Director of Presidential Leadership Academy. “Having diverse contributions and perspectives opens up opportunities to see how paths cross and connect, and that involvement has to come from students of different genders, races, ethnicities, political specters and majors. different. It’s exciting to see how our students are developing and how the PLA helps them in this aspect by offering grants and networking opportunities, and connecting them with alumni who have participated in the program.

In addition to classes for the program, students attend leadership seminars, engage in community programs, and participate in fully funded field trips scheduled each academic semester to give students a broader perspective on the issues. social, political and environmental. During the 2016-17 academic year, members of the Presidential Leadership Academy visited New York City in the fall and Seattle and Gettysburg in the spring.

University President Eric Barron teaches a weekly seminar during the student’s first year in the program with specialist classes led by the Dean of Schreyer Honors College and Doberstein, as well as a course focused on critical thinking. The last year ends with a synthesis experience and the creation of an e-portfolio.

The Presidential Leadership Academy fosters an environment that promotes and develops core values ​​for potential leaders, including civility, philanthropy, respect for diversity, and student engagement. This academic community of students, faculty and administrators explore the multiple dimensions of issues, encourage diverse perspectives, and create a fully informed and respectful discourse that leads to wise action.

The Presidential Leadership Academy received 170 applications for the Class of 2017 and approximately 60 people moved on to the interview portion of the process. The final group of 30 members was selected after a review of their academic achievements and performance and an evaluation of their interviews.

In addition to applications submitted by students, faculty and staff at Penn State also submit applications to students qualified to become members of the Presidential Leadership Academy. Applications are expected at the end of January. Students can apply from December to early February of each academic year. Topics for the two mandatory essay questions will be announced at the end of the fall semester.

To be considered, students must have a GPA of 3.2 or above at the time of application and include an up-to-date resume with on-campus or external leadership activities. Two letters of reference, one from a faculty member, staff member, or Penn State advisor and one regarding the outside activities of a person such as a coach, mentor or supervisor, must be submitted with the application.

For more information on Penn State’s Presidential Leadership Academy, visit

The new class of Presidential Leadership Academy of 2017 includes:

Audrey Arner – Stafford, Virginia; Eberly College of Sciences

Thomas Beeby – Cape May, New Jersey; College of Liberal Arts

Brigette Cannata – Staten Island, New York; Eberly College of Sciences

Ryan Christenson – Needham Heights, Massachusetts; Smeal Business College

Dennis Fisher – Manassas, Virginia; College of Education

Bryel Frasch – Ashland; Eberly College of Sciences

Ryan Fritz – Honesdale; College of Engineering

Kathleen Gergel – West Chester; Communications College

Jake Griggs – Port Mathilde; Division of Undergraduate Studies

Olivia Gude – Atlanta, Georgia; Communications College

Tara Hally – Fairfax Station, Virginia; Smeal Business College

Benjamin Hartleb – Erie; College of Engineering

Helia Hosseinpour – Kingston, Pennsylvania and Iran; College of Liberal Arts

Raymond Hoy – Conshohocken; College of Engineering

Bailey MacDowell – Lancaster; College of Information Science and Technology

Grace Miller – Hershey; College of Information Science and Technology

Emmy Muhoza – Kigali, Rwanda; College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Caleb Musekiwa – Mount Darwin, Zimbabwe; College of Engineering

Jason Ogden – Port Mathilde; Division of Undergraduate Studies

Samantha Olson – Netherlands; College of Nurses

Elijah Reber – Wernersville; College of Engineering

Tomas Sanchez – Philadelphia; College of Liberal Arts

Natasha Schlaffer – Simi Valley, California; College of Arts and Architecture

Emma Sinkoff – Richmond, Massachusetts; College of Health and Human Development

Nathan Smith – Los Altos, California; Eberly College of Sciences

Cory Steinle – Beaver Falls; College of Liberal Arts

Alisa Vasquez – Washingtonville, New York; Communications College

Ian Wasserman – Mount Laurel, New Jersey; College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Kyle Wetzler – Harleysville; College of Engineering

Daniel Zahn – Allentown; College of Liberal Arts

Kevin E. Boling

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