Among the Class of 2022 graduates are Penn State World Campus Student Government Association (SGA) leaders Mona Hill and Ariel Hinojos. Hill spent her year as the president of the World Campus student body government while stationed in Germany with the Air Force. Hinojos was the vice president and lived in Wyoming before moving to Texas with her family.
While they were geographically far apart, they found a strong sense of belonging in the student government and through other student organizations. Hill and Hinojos are among the more than 1,500 Penn State World Campus students who will be celebrated during Penn State’s spring 2022 commencement exercises on May 7.
Hill serves her country while furthering education
Staff Sgt. Mona Hill is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Energy and Sustainability Policy program and the geography minor. She served as president during the 2021–22 academic year and completed her course work while stationed abroad as a weather forecaster with the U.S. Air Force in Germany. She is proud to be a Penn Stater and is excited to tell her peers in the military about her experience.
“I get to tell people I'm a student at Penn State,” Hill said.
“The connection is unprecedented with a World Campus program,” Hill said of the relationships she developed with faculty and her peers even while being in Europe. “It’s such a unique experience being a part of World Campus, especially with such a prestigious university.”
Hill reflected on her year in leadership and was proud to be an active advocate for her Penn State World Campus peers. World Campus SGA leadership participated in the hiring process for a mental health case manager exclusively for World Campus students, as well as representing their peers at University-wide events and meetings. She was excited that their work will continue to help students past the end of her presidency.
“The whole experience is transformational for students who get to sit in the leadership position,” Hill said.
Hill is looking forward to joining the alumni family and continuing to hold great pride in her soon-to-be alma mater.
“Even though we’re so far away, some people thousands of miles, some still within University Park, there is a universal pride and ownership of World Campus and Penn State,” Hill said. “Being a college graduate isn’t common in my family, and being able to graduate from Penn State and to share that with my family is great …”
Hill plans to celebrate her degree with her family members who will make the trip to University Park from California. She plans to continue serving active duty in the Air Force before pursuing a graduate degree, when she hopes to find her way back to Penn State.
Hinojos creates own success through classes, student organizations
Ariel Hinojos is a soon-to-be Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society graduate and served as vice president for the World Campus SGA. While she is excited to graduate, Hinojos said she will miss the day-to-day interactions with her World Campus community.
“I made a lot of really good friends. The majority of my days have been spent meeting with these individuals and students, and I’m really going to miss that,” Hinojos said.
She developed a community through student organizations and even represented Penn State World Campus at Homecoming in October 2021. Hinojos said her friend group plans to attend more homecomings and University events to further their bond and school spirit in person.
Like Hill, Hinojos is very proud of the student government leadership’s part in representing and advocating for the World Campus student body, including the hiring of a mental health case manager.
“We were able to come together to get that information out to students and make them aware of the resources,” Hinojos said.
Looking forward, she plans to take a gap year to spend time with her family before starting law school with the goal of opening her own criminal defense firm. But before that, Hinojos is excited to reflect on her experience and celebrate her accomplishment with about a dozen members of her extended family at commencement.
Hinojos and Hill will also meet each other in person for the first time on the big day.
“World Campus has provided me with every opportunity and every resource to guide me, lead me, and help me along the way,” Hinojos said. “I belong here; this is my place.”
Learn more about student leadership opportunities within the Penn State World Campus Student Government Association.