UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Each year the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity presents awards to Penn State students, staff, and faculty who are interested in and have shown a commitment to the Penn State LGBTQ+ community. The award recipients for the 2019-20 academic year represent student, staff, and faculty from across the commonwealth. These award winners have proven outstanding commitment and service regarding sexual and gender diversity at Penn State and have contributed to a climate of inclusion and belonging for the broader LGBTQ+ community.
“The nominees and recipients of this year’s awards have provided so much support to our sexual and gender diverse communities at Penn State," said Brian Patchcoski, director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. "I am profoundly grateful for the dedicated work of this year’s awardees — for it is through their work that we can provide even greater pathways of support and community engagement for future generations. We are…so grateful!”
The awards and their recipients are as follows:
Dr. Susan R. Rankin Award
Purnell embodies the award’s meaning of leadership, integrity, and outstanding contributions. Purnell has created meaningful connections across campus and is extremely dedicated to serving and educating all students in the Penn State community. He has consistently worked to better the community around him with sincerity and benevolence. Purnell’s contributions have fostered change throughout Penn State and will continue to do so after he graduates.
During her first year as a graduate student at Penn State, Oswald has demonstrated dedication to leadership within the LGBTQ+ community. Oswald’s leadership shows through her dedicated research of sexuality and stigma and being an active role model to her fellow peers. Through various mentorship roles, she has and continues to support and educate the community around her. While only at the beginning of their graduate experience, Oswald has made a positive mark on campus with her involvement and commitment to sexuality research.
Allison Subasic Community Builder Award
Miller will be graduating with a degree in psychology with a minor in sexuality and gender studies. This past year was his third year with the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and throughout much of this past year supported the recent relocation of the center from Boucke Building to the HUB-Robeson Center through auditing archives for the center, preparing for the new location, and assisting staff in setting the new center space up for the student community. Miller has made the center a home for not only his peers, but for all who enter the space. Miller has also been a hospitality and operations intern and last academic year was in charge of running the Clothing Transit offered through the center, even appearing as a spotlight feature on NBC News regarding the evolution of clothing resources for gender diverse student communities on college campuses. Outside of his work in the center, Miller has also been an avid singer in choir and an active member in Ally house, the LGBTQ+ special living option on campus.
Whitley is graduating with a degree in psychology with double minors in sexuality and gender studies, and deafness and hearing studies. After graduation, Whitley will attend graduate school to obtain a master’s in clinical mental health counseling. She wants to become a licensed counselor for queer and trans people and hopes to one day open her own clinic. This past year was Whitley’s second, nonconsecutive, year with the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and has not only served the broader Penn State community through outreach endeavors but has worked to provide support and engagement for peer education across the University community. Whitley has and continues to be invested in supporting and growing community connection and will continue this effort after the completion of her undergraduate tenure.
Academic Achievement Award
Caitlin Reichard has maintained a strong and consistent high academic record in the competitive programs of biology and Spanish. Her research work focuses on holistic approaches to serving Spanish speaking populations in the healthcare system. Reicherd has shown dedication to her academics beyond the classroom by assisting in major Penn State research labs such as the MultiGrammar Lab and the Muscle Lab. Being a queer student is a challenge in many fields, but Reichard has illustrated that in times of adversity, she is able to excel in her academics and beyond.
OUTstanding Service Award
Staff member, Anna Eichner’s service to the LGBTQ+ student population at Penn State Lehigh Valley is most deserving of recognition. She serves as an amazing advisor for the PRIDE student organization and has created other support services for students including bi-weekly group discussions, trainings for students, faculty and staff, and campus LGBTQ+ awareness opportunities such as a Transgender Day of Remembrance display. Eichner’s enthusiasm and efforts create valuable connections and support for students and the greater Penn State community.
Pride Alliance at Penn State Altoona
The student organization, Pride Alliance at Penn State Altoona, demonstrated outstanding service with the planning and participation of a historical Pride Parade for the city of Altoona. This parade was one of the first for Altoona and turned out to be one of biggest parade events for the city in history. This major event for the campus and for the city is deserving of this recognition as service events like these take immense courage and illustrate dedication to the broader LGBTQ+ community and community change.
Further information on annual LGBTQ+ awards and support offered by the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, can be found on the center’s website.