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Hannah McBean Receiving Award 2014

Students and faculty honored at annual
academic and student achievement awards (Spring, 2014)

Natacha Bolufer-Laurentie earns “Excellence in Teaching” award

Hannah McBean is a model of efficiency as she juggles her schedule at home, where she is a full-time mother, and on campus, where she is a full-time senior majoring in organizational leadership, a program designed for adult learners. The two engaging profiles are harmonious and match the insight of former Penn State President Eric Walker.

McBean was named this year's recipient of the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award on May 2, at the Academic and Student Achievement Awards ceremony at Penn State New Kensington. The Walker Award is given to the student whose outstanding qualities of character, scholarship and leadership contribute to the prestige of the campus. The award was established in 1980 by former Penn State President Eric A. Walker and is presented at each of the 24 Penn State campuses.

“Hannah is a highly motivated student with a sense of humor and excellent communication skills,” said Angie Fisher, administrative support assistant for student affairs, who nominated McBean for the award. “She exemplifies the qualities of leadership.”

The Organizational Leadership program’s flexibility allows McBean to take traditional classroom instruction offered during the day, at night or on weekends, and to study online from home. Buoyed by a 3.4 grade-point average, she expects to graduate in December with the wherewithal to begin a start-up company that addresses issues of at-risk children.

“I would like have my own corporation that offers extensive outreach to underprivileged youth and others facing difficult situations in life,” McBean said. “The organizational leadership degree will help me get the company going.”

McBean’s leaderships skills, coupled with her academic acumen, earned her an induction into the Alpha Sigma Lambda, a national honor society for adult learners. She was recognized by the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education, an organization committed to improving and ensuring the education of underrepresented students, with three scholarships and awards. Two years ago, she received the K. Leroy Irvis Scholarship. Last year, she was honored as one of five students selected for the Outstanding Student award. In February, she was named a 2014 recipient of the Robert D. Lynch Scholarship.

When she is not focused on her family or her studies, McBean can be found volunteering her services for activities on campus and in the community. On campus, she is the president of the Multi-Cultural Club and is a student representative on the Student Activities Fees, Campus Diversity, and Strategic Planning committees. She has written for the Nittany Pride student newspaper and sang with the student jazz ensemble.

In the community, she holds numerous leadership positions including secretary of the youth department and assistant chair of the choir department at Bethlehem Temple Church, secretary for the United Council Home Mission Department and assistant secretary of the national youth department of True Apostolic Churches of Jesus Christ Inc. She recently started a tutoring program for children, K-12, at her church, Saved by Grace Ministries in North Vandergrift, Pa., where she was raised. She also volunteers at Tri-City Life, a non-profit organization for single mothers.

During her “down” time, McBean is a published author, poet, singer/songwriter, radio host and motivational speaker. She is a frequent guest speaker at area high schools and colleges. Her book, “Silence Speaks: Sounds from Within” features inspirational poetry that she uses in her motivational speeches. The book delves into three phases of life -- The Struggle; The Mountaintop; and The Awakening -- that are essential to living a meaningful life. "Silence Speaks" was featured at the 2010 Book Expo America in New York, NY.

“I have traveled throughout Pennsylvania and abroad to conduct poetry workshops,” said McBean, a graduate of Kiski Area High School. “I encourage students through inspirational poetry, singing and playing the piano.”

McBean lives in New Kensington with her husband, Stephen, pastor of Saved by Grace Ministries, and their six children.

Academic and Student Achievement Awards
At the annual "Celebration of Excellence" ceremony, students, faculty and staff were honored for their achievements inside and outside the classroom. More than 100 students were recognized for their academic prowess and extracurricular accomplishments during the fall and spring semesters.

Three faculty members were honored with the Excellence in Teaching Awards -- Natacha Bolufer-Laurentie, instructor in Spanish (full-time); Frances Blanco-Yu, instructor in chemistry (part-time); and Jason Zimmerman, adjunct instructor in technical training (Continuing Education). Faculty has three areas of responsibility: teaching, research/scholarly activity and service. The award recognizes campus faculty contributions in teaching. The principal criterion is excellent classroom performance, but excellence in other activities such as advising, supervision of learning outside the classroom, and course development are also considered.

In addition to the faculty teaching awards, Jyotsna “Josi” Kalavar, associate professor of human development and family studies, was honored with the Arlene E. Hall Service Award. The award was established in honor of the former director of academic affairs, who retired in 2012 after 36 years at the campus. The award is presented to a faculty member who has shown outstanding service in committee work, student advising, involvement in student affairs activities, and other service to the University, campus and community. Frank Santimauro, instructor in business administration, was named Adviser of the Year.

Students received academic honors for highest grade-point average in each major, as well as for earning membership in honor societies and honors programs. Anthony Stimmell received the President Sparks Award for earning a 4.0 GPA with at least 36 credits. Student achievement honorees included Steven Warhola, the recipient of the Alle-Kiski Society's Penn State Spirit award and Mikaela Dunegan, who earned the title Lion Ambassador of the Year. In athletics, Dean Lusk (wrestling) was named Male Athlete of the Year, and Bridget Fisher (softball) was selected as Female Athlete of the Year.

Pam Lang and Randall Frain and Graduation 2013

Pam Lang and Randall Frain recommenced their friendship while attending evening classes at Penn State New Kensington.

Among the Spring, 2013, graduates were two adult learners: Pamela Jo Lang, of New Kensington, and Randall Frain, of Springdale. As youngsters, Lang and Frain were classmates at the former Ridge Avenue Junior High School in New Kensington. After Frain moved to Lower Burrell, the two went to different high schools and lost contact with each other. Marriage, children and grandchildren followed before they reunited in 2011 in the race, gender and employment course.

“Randall and I were in homeroom together for a few years because my maiden name was Ferma,” said Lang, who earned a bachelor’s degree in information sciences and technology. “When I saw him in my class two years ago, I remembered his name was Frain. We both remembered each other and shared information about our health, families, work and school experience at the campus.”

“We sat across from each other in homeroom and talked each morning,” recalled Frain, who holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership (OLEAD). “When Pam sat down beside me in the employment course and said, ‘Hello, do I know you?’ my mind seemed to go into slow motion, and then I remembered her. Seeing Pam again is like pulling on your favorite sweater and going out the door on a cool, crisp, spring morning.”

Both returned to college to enhance their careers. Lang is the staff technician, and data management and precious metals coordinator at the Alcoa Technical Center in Upper Burrell, four miles from the campus. Her IST degree complements her job responsibilities. The IST major gives graduates a background in the core technical areas of networking, databases, programming and system integration.

Frain is looking to start a second career in management. He retired from the U.S. Postal Service and enrolled in the OLEAD program, which is geared to adult students and serves as a foundation of communication skills with strong attention to workplace-specific courses such as organizational leadership, industrial relations, employment relations and ethics. Frain finished at the top of his OLEAD senior class and was recognized in April at the annual Academic and Student Achievement Awards ceremony. He also earned a minor in labor and employer relations.

Click here for the complete story of Penn State New Kensington's Spring 2013 Commencement ceremony.


Hanna McBean at her poetry reading

Hannah Hattie McBean, Adult OLEAD Student, wants to reach people of all ages with her poetry.

She had the chance to do that last week with a poetry reading at the Penn State New Kensington campus bookstore, where she read from her book, Silence Speaks: Sounds from Within.

McBean, an adult student and sophomore organizational leadership major at Penn State New Kensington, also sang and shared stories in between reading her inspirational works.

“I was totally excited because 35 students came and they flooded the bookstore. It was awesome,” she said. “I was very surprised and just so happy with the turnout I had.”

The campus’s jazz ensemble accompanied the 32-year old New Kensington resident and Vandergrift native.

She claims music as her first love, but finds poetry to be a powerful outlet, too.

“It’s like a way for me to vent and kind of pour out my emotions, the struggles in life and the victories. That’s where the poetry comes from,” she said.

Her book includes 68 poems divided into three chapters, “The Struggle”, “The Mountain Top”, and “The Awakening”. An audio book featuring McBean reading a number of her poems is available for free online.

In addition to crafting her own creative work, McBean also endeavors to help others, especially young people, do the same. With her company, “She’s Purely Defined”, McBean goes to churches, middle schools and colleges to share her love of poetry.

But those efforts are about more than what can be put down on paper.

“We do a lot of outreach, trying to build children emotionally,” she said.

McBean has plans to bring poetry programs to elementary schools. A program at the local YMCA is in the works too.

And with her degree from Penn State, she intends to expand her efforts into more youth programs that focus on tutoring and job training for low income students.

“I just want to reach as many youth as possible,” she said. “Life is short.”

While she’s been singing for years and her poetry book is now in its second edition, McBean wasn’t sure want to expect when performing in front of her classmates. In class, the mother of six said, she may often seem smiling but quiet and ready to get down to business.

Sharing her work provided the chance to share a different side of herself, like when she read a poem about commanding respect or when she “poured her heart out” in the introduction to another, called “Weight Watchers”.

“It was kind of hilarious at the beginning,” she said. “They laughed because they knew where I was coming from.”

Later, on campus, McBean said, she could see the impact her reading had on fellow students, when even those she doesn’t know well saw her and smiled.

“So it was definitely a good experience,” she said. “I definitely connected with them.”