Lehigh Valley students acknowledged for campus and community contributions

Campus Engagement Committee Scholarship award winners announced
Hemil Patel in front of lion statue

Hemil Patel, junior project & supply chain management major, was awarded the Campus Engagement Committee scholarship for his impact on campus and in his community.

Credit: Hemil Patel

The Penn State Lehigh Valley Campus Engagement Committee (CEC) awarded two scholarships to Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) students Megan O'Donnell and Hemil Patel for their impact on campus and in their communities. The scholarship committee of the CEC chose two students to receive the Achieving Student Award based on their demonstrated leadership and accomplishments on campus and in their local communities. Each student was awarded a $500 scholarship. PSU-LV faculty, staff members and community members were invited to nominate a student for this award. Students could nominate themselves as well. The nominees then had to submit an application detailing their achievements.

The PSU-LV Holiday Party held on Dec. 13, 2019, raised funds to benefit CEC and the scholarships it distributes to worthy PSU-LV students.

“What sets this award apart from other student leadership awards is the ‘human causes and public service activities’ focus: Contributions and service to human causes and public service activities go beyond their responsibilities as a Penn State student,” said Eileen Grodziak, instructional designer and CEC member at PSU-LV.

The two students honored with the Campus Engagement Committee Achieving Student Award for the 2020-21 academic year are:

Headshot of Megan O'Donnell

Megan O'Donnell, junior corporate communication major, received the CEC award for her impact on campus and in her community. 

Credit: Megan O'Donnell

Megan O’Donnell, junior, corporate communication major

O’Donnell is the president of PSU-LV Communication Society and the president-elect of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Honor Society for communications studies students. O’Donnell has overcome more adversity than most in her life, being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 16 and having developed numerous health problems as a result of chemotherapy. While it may have put her academic career on pause, O’Donnell continued to dedicate her time to other pediatric cancer patients. She was the keynote speaker for the Easton and Whitehall Relay for Life, as well as the keynote speaker for the Easton Relay for Life Bachelor Auction. Donating her time to these charities as a teenager helped her realize the importance of community.

O’Donnell was instrumental in Communication Society’s Fall 2019 Caps for Kids bottle cap collection fundraiser as well as coordinating Lambda Pi Eta’s Fall 2020 Day of Service.

“What the Achieving Student Scholarship means to me is gratitude for the ability to continue my education. Since I was a teenager, I have believed in empowering my local community and when I joined PSU-LV, I wanted to continue that mindset with the new community I was a part of. I took my years of community service work and applied it at PSU-LV as I made sure to join various student organizations so I could lend a hand in building up and supporting the student community around me,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell plans to put the scholarship funds toward her tuition costs. She maintains that no matter the roadblock, be it no funding for school or her declining health, she is determined to find a way to receive an education and earn a college degree.

“This scholarship affords me the opportunity to continue to work toward my degree and finally achieve a lifelong goal. I could not be more grateful for being selected as the recipient and I am thankful to PSU-LV,” she said.

“Megan possesses a firm grounding and understanding of the importance of outstanding academic excellence and community among her peers,” said Ana Serrano, lecturer of Spanish, PSU-LV. “You will find Megan to be indeed bright and focused, extremely capable, conscientious and dependable. Her various collaborations and leadership capabilities demonstrate that she is a collegial individual whose creativity and resourcefulness, along with a caring, confident, and self-directed attitude, foreground important tenets for success.”

Hemil Patel, junior, project and supply chain management major

Patel is founder and president of PSU-LV’s Cricket Club, Penn State Lehigh Valley Benefitting THON finance director and a tour director for the Lion Ambassadors. In just two years at PSU-LV, Patel has been involved in the Lion Ambassadors club, Student Government Association, THON, Cricket Club and Student Activity Fee Committee. He is also a student worker for Administrative Offices and a tutor for the Learning Center. With Patel’s help as finance director for Penn State Lehigh Valley Benefitting THON, the Lehigh Valley campus raised more than $41,000 for kids who have cancer last year.

Patel has volunteered at Sixth Street Shelter in Allentown and Saucon Valley Manor, assisting in cleaning an apartment for a new family and helping residents complete their daily activities, respectively. Attending Penn State Lehigh Valley has brought Patel out of his comfort zone and allowed him to be an outgoing person, constantly thinking about supporting his community.

“The Campus Engagement Committee Achieving Student Award scholarship means that all my work since I joined Penn State Lehigh Valley has not gone unnoticed. After moving from India during 10th grade, I could not express my leadership abilities in high school. However, since I joined Penn State Lehigh Valley, all the faculty and staff have been supportive and have encouraged me to become a leader. Using those leadership skills, I made a positive impact on campus and in the local community,” said Patel.

“What impresses me most about Hemil is his positive attitude and his leadership skills. He contributes to campus by educating students about Penn State and how they can succeed,” said Denise Ogden, professor of marketing, PSU-LV. “He uses his skills to help the THON organization organize finances. Through the Cricket Club, he gathers people from diverse backgrounds to have fun and learn about a game not commonly played in the U.S. Due to his leadership on three case competitions, he has helped the sponsors to think differently about problems they have in the business world.”

Last year’s Campus Engagement Committee Achieving Student Awards were presented at the Virtual Student Awards Ceremony this summer to: Elise Shaffer (Coopersburg, Pennsylvania), Savannah Malesky (Center Valley, Pennsylvania), Bryce Smith (Lehighton, Pennsylvania) and Natalie Ament (Nazareth, Pennsylvania). This year's Campus Engagement Committee Achieving Student Awards will be presented at the Spring Student Awards Ceremony date to be determined.



Dennille Schuler

Public Relations Specialist
Penn State Lehigh Valley

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