Penn State Lehigh Valley announces 2020 student life and athletics award winners

Students celebrated for athletic and student life achievements during the Finally Finished Fest

More than 75 students, faculty and staff celebrated the end of the spring 2020 semester with the virtual Finally Finished Fest on April 30. The fest served as a celebration of the end of the academic year and as the venue for the presentation of the Student Life Awards and Athletic Awards. Winners and nominees were recognized for all their hard work and dedication this semester and received a digital certificate. The festivities additionally included a live exclusive performance (streamed) by pop band Negative 25 and a digital sketch artist who drew cartoon versions of attendees.

group of students lined up on stairs

Student Life award winners were presented during the virtual Finally Finished Fest. The Student Organization of the Year award went to the Lion Ambassadors. Lion Ambassador members posed on the stairs in Centre Hall earlier this year.

Credit: Penn State

Students, faculty and staff were invited to nominate winners in each Student Life Award category.

This year’s Student Life Award winners included:

Student Club Adviser of the Year: Marta Da Silva and Lisa Miller (GSO)

Student Organization advisers are all volunteers dedicated to helping students accomplishing their goals. Some advisers go above and beyond the call of duty and this award recognizes their efforts.

“The winners this year have shown dedication and encouragement as they continued their work with the Global Students Organization (GSO). Marta Da Silva and Lisa Miller helped initiate this club on campus last year and it has grown to one of the largest and most active on campus. They have guided the club in introducing new and exciting events including the Thanksgiving Tasting and Chinese New Year, both of which had more than 100 students in attendance. As club co-advisers, they consistently encourage all students to join in and share their heritage,” said Pam Fleck, assistant director of Student Affairs.

Program of the Year: 2020 Chinese New Year Celebration hosted by the Global Student Organization

Student Organization Program of the Year recognizes an event or program planned by a student organization. Campus organizations provide positive experience for their peers.

“This year’s program of the year is GSO’s Chinese New Year, which has quickly become a tradition on campus. With many students in the club of Chinese heritage, GSO hosted this event to highlight the many interesting parts of a Chinese New Year celebration,” Fleck said. “They covered every detail necessary to make the event successful, from decorations to authentic cuisine. This year, the club added an even more special touch when they had club members providing the entertainment by playing and singing for the crowd. The event offered a unique chance to learn about Chinese culture and a great demonstration of diversity and inclusion on our campus.”

Club of the Year: Lion Ambassadors

The Student Organization of the Year award recognizes a student-run organization at Penn State Lehigh Valley that has had a successful school year and given back to the campus community. This year’s Club of the Year was the Lion Ambassadors.

“This organization has created a welcoming environment in the Penn State Lehigh Valley community. The personal touches and Penn State spirit that Lion Ambassadors add to campus tours and recruitment events is top notch. Lion Ambassadors show their dedication to our entire campus community on a regular basis by hosting a variety of events throughout the year, including Be A Part from the Start, Speed Friending, Pumpkin Painting and the Highlighter Party. Members of this club are enthusiastic, dedicated and always welcoming. They give constant reminders of what it means to be a Penn Stater,” Fleck said.

Emerging Leader Award: Mahnoor Malik and Brianna Peters

The Emerging Leader of the Year award recognizes a first-year or new transfer student who has taken on leadership responsibilities and given back to the Penn State Lehigh Valley community. This individual must have exemplary grades and demonstrated a passion for Penn State. Self-nominations are accepted for this award. This year, there were two student winners: Mahnoor Malik and Brianna Peters.

“Mahnoor has consistently demonstrated qualities of an emerging leader with her role as Co-Chair of the SGA student life committee and as a Lion Ambassador. She was an active member of THON and graduate of the LEAP leadership program. Mahnoor is most often seen encouraging others to be involved on campus and finding ways for them to do so,” Fleck said.

The second winner, Brianna Peters, has been involved in several campus clubs including Lion Ambassadors, THON, SGA, and Blue and White Society where she served as Marketing Director. She graduated from the fall LEAP Leadership program and was selected as an NSO leader for this summer.

“As an active member of THON, she initiated the first Pura Vida bracelet fundraiser and worked from start to finish to ensure the success of this event. As a result of her commitment to and love of THON, Brianna was recently selected as the PSU-LV benefitting THON chair for 2020 - 2021. She is hard working, has a positive attitude and is always seeking to engage other students in campus events,” Fleck said.

Spirit of Service: Emily Kiefer

The Spirit of Service award recognizes a full-time Penn State Lehigh Valley student who has continually demonstrated their dedication to Penn State Lehigh Valley through service. This year’s recipient of the Spirit of Service is awarded to Emilie Kiefer.

“Since arriving at Penn State Lehigh Valley this semester, Emilie has shown her spirit of service in countless ways by helping in community and campus events, including the Martin Luther King Day of service and helping at the Sixth Street Shelter. Recently, she was chosen for an NSO leader and participated in ALLY training to serve as an advocate for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Emily is giving and kind with service at the core of her student experience. She has made an immediate impact during her first semester at PSU-LV,” Fleck said.

Dedicated Student: Rachel DeMesa

The Dedicated Student of the Year award recognizes a full-time Penn State Lehigh Valley student who has continually demonstrated their dedication to Penn State Lehigh Valley through involvement on campus and ability to encourage their peers to be involved. This year, the Dedicated Student of the Year award goes to Rachel DeMesa.

“Rachel has been a dedicated student since arriving at Penn State Lehigh Valley, serving as a team player in many ways. She has been active as a member and officer in Lion Ambassadors, GSO and the E-sports club. Rachel is dedicated to the best outcome for each of her clubs and offers hard work and great ideas. She is friendly and welcoming to all students, encouraging involvement to all she meets,” Fleck said.

Student Leader of the Year: Vinay Singh

head shot of young man

Student Life award winners were presented during the virtual Finally Finished Fest. The Student Leader of the Year award went to Vinay Singh.

Student Life award winners were presented during the virtual Finally Finished Fest. T

Credit: Penn State

The Student Leader of the Year award recognizes a full-time Penn State Lehigh Valley student who has taken on leadership responsibilities and given back to the Penn State Lehigh Valley community. This individual must have exemplary grades and demonstrate a passion for Penn State. This year’s Leader of the Year award went to Vinay Singh.

“His consistent presence on our campus has contributed to many successes during his past two years at PSU-LV. Vinay has served as the marketing coordinator for the Community Heroes service club and this year stepped up to be its president. Although his leadership has been valuable, his hands-on approach to service is even more impressive. He has participated in almost every service project we’ve held,” Fleck said. “Vinay is a kind and caring student who is always striving to engage others, encourage their involvement and help them see how they can make a difference. We are proud to name him as our leader of the year.”

This year’s Athletics Award winners included:

PSUAC All-Academic Honorees (Students Who Achieved a GPA of 3.0 or Higher)

Golf: Kevin Wagner, Nicholas Herman, Anthony Sawarynski and Brian Zinman

Women’s Volleyball: Rebecca Fuehrer, Ebony Sanders, Annaliz Mejia, Jillian Cope, Bridget Jones, Karalyn Binder, and Adriana Leon-Vazquez

Women’s Soccer: Jenna Bonker, Natalia Makowka, Emily Yost, Emily Nguyen, Amnah Khan, Hannah Irwin, Taran Campion, Caitlin Slack, Nancy Perez and Dayana Delgad

Men’s Soccer: Justin Pallante, Elijah Silfies, Justin Evans, Matthew La Brie, Creyn Muthard, Alexandre Traca, Patrick Reilly, Mohamed Abdalla, Fadi Farah, Roy Njoroge, Majed Salama, Frank Clark, Matthew Holderith, Domenic Niosi, David Reagan and Fady Wahba.

Women’s Basketball: Ebony Sanders, Yasmine Herrera, Rebecca Ganthier, Kristin Curry and Makayla Brown-Paul

Men’s Basketball: Tommy Bennett, Moses Omwega, DaJour Douglas, Hesro Johnson and Connor O'Brien

John Fritz Sportsmanship Award Honorees

This student-athlete demonstrates good sportsmanship in that he or she displays ethical, appropriate, polite and fair behavior while participating in athletic events and as a member of their team.  He or she exemplifies the Penn State Values of integrity, responsibility, excellence, respect, discovery and community.

Golf: Andrew Oliviera

Women’s Volleyball: Bridget Jones

Women’s Soccer: Sunny Litschauer

Men’s Soccer: Elijah Silfie

Women’s Basketball: Makayla Brown-Paul

Men’s Basketball: Nick Herman

PSUAC All-Conference Honorees (Picked from the conference opponents based on athletic performance)

Golf: 2019 PSUAC Champions – Brian Zinman, Anthony Sawarynski, Kevin Wagner, Andrew Oliviera, Morgan Krause, Tyler Ringenberger; Brian Exton (PSUAC Coach of the Year), Brian Zinman (PSUAC Top Medalist & All-Conference) and Anthony Sawarynski (PSUAC All-Conference)

Women’s Volleyball: Ebony Sanders (PSUAC East Player of the Year & PSUAC 1st Team All-Conference), Jillian Cope (PSUAC East Rookie of the Year & PSUAC Honorable Mention All-Conference), Adriana Leon (PSUAC East 1st Team All-Conference)

Men’s Soccer: Trevor Rockwell (PSUAC 1st Team All-Conference) and Alexandre Traca (PSUAC 2nd Team All-Conference)

Women’s Basketball: Ebony Sanders (PSUAC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, PSUAC 1st Team All-Conference) and Jah’nel Oliver (PSUAC Honorable Mention All-Conference)

USCAA All-American & All-Academic (These are national awards & the highest recognition you can receive for athletic & academic performance)

young woman playing basketball and young man playing golf

Ebony Sanders and Brian Zinman were named PSU-LV Student-Athletes of the Year.

Credit: Lorie Khalil

Women’s Basketball: Ebony Sanders (USCAA 1st Team All-American, USCAA National Student-Athlete of the Year, USCAA National All-Academic)

2019-2020 Male & Female Student-Athletes of the Year
Ebony Sanders (Women’s Basketball & Volleyball) and Brian Zinman (Golf



Dennille Schuler

Public Relations Specialist
Penn State Lehigh Valley

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