Penn State World Campus has recognized four students and an organization with awards for their leadership during the 2021–22 academic year.

Caitlyn DeBlaay and Ariel Hinojos received the Overall Student Leadership Award. Alicia Rowley is the recipient of the first Inclusive Excellence Award, and LaKeisha Coleman received the first Emerging Leader Award.

The Organization Leadership Award went to Penn State World Campus for THON, whose members participated in the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) for the first time this year.

The awards, first established in the 2020–21 academic year, are coordinated by Penn State World Campus Student Affairs. Ashley A. Adams, senior director of Penn State World Campus Student Affairs, said leadership development is a top priority of hers. 

“Our students utilize the opportunities they have here at Penn State to aspire to and grow within leadership roles in their education, in their communities, and in their careers,” Adams said. “Congratulations to these students and the organization for leading by example.”

a headshot of Caitlyn DeBlaay

DeBlaay is an undergraduate student in two programs, the Bachelor of Science in Labor and Human Resources and the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership. She is involved in the Blue and White Society and assumed leadership of the World Campus chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

A nominator called DeBlaay “awe-inspiring” as a dedicated wife, mother, and online learner. The nominator said DeBlaay has worked hard to make World Campus “a place where students could get a full college experience while taking classes online.”

“From her mentoring to Blue and White Society, her passion is to see people succeed in all things Penn State and really give a true meaning to what ‘We Are’ stands for,” the nominator said.

A headshot of Ariel Hinojos

Hinojos is a spring 2022 graduate of the Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society program.

A nominator said Hinojos has “paved some historical moments and traditions” for World Campus and is a role model and leader. Hinojos helped create the inaugural World Campus Homecoming Committee and was a leader in Penn State World Campus for THON. 

“She is an example of how students can become involved in World Campus and make a difference,” a nominator said. “She exemplifies all of the core values that Penn State prides itself in, and I could not think of a better student for these awards.”

a headshot of Alicia Rowley

Rowley, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Journalism and Media, strives to create an inclusive environment and advocates for marginalized communities.

In leadership roles within World Campus, Rowley served as president and vice president of the Digital Media Design club and on the World Campus Student Advisory Board. 

“As someone who has struggled with their own disabilities, Alicia seems very able to understand the unique challenges that others face,” a nominator said. “In our conversations, they seem eager to explore a career in accessibility and these kinds of design projects that have immediate impacts in people’s lives.”

LaKeisha Coleman headshot

Coleman is a student in the Bachelor of Science in Energy and Sustainability Policy program. She is the first recipient of the Emerging Leader Award, which goes to someone in a new leadership role who has demonstrated potential.

A nominator said Coleman is one of the program’s “shining stars” and highlighted her role as an ambassador for prospective students for the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Coleman is a member of the International City/County Management Association student organization. 

“LaKeisha sets the bar high, successfully managing a career, motherhood, volunteer work, and her studies,” the nominator said.

Penn State World Campus for THON, the organization leadership award recipient, was established earlier in this academic year and made it possible for World Campus students to participate for the first time in THON at the University Park campus.

Nominators said the organization has shown tremendous growth in developing the organization, its social media presence, and its engagement with other organizations. Nominators said members are passionate and dedicated to the effort, too.

Visit the Penn State World Campus Student Affairs web page for more information about leadership opportunities.