MONT ALTO, Pa. — This year’s incoming class — 235 students strong — was officially welcomed to Penn State Mont Alto during Founders Convocation on Saturday, Aug. 21.
During the ceremony, the class was formally presented to Mont Alto Chancellor Francis K. Achampong. In his remarks to the students, Achampong told them that the best way to make the most of their college experience is by striking the balance between academics and becoming active campus community members, “Stay focused, but be engaged,” he said. “Make friends and have fun. Make the most out of all we have to offer.”
Student Government Association President Danielle Barnhart echoed Achampong’s sentiment by telling the class, “Say yes (to experiences) more than no, and don’t make excuses. I challenge each of you to try something new this year. It can be scary but always worth it.”
Renee Borromeo, teaching professor in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, and recipient of the 2020-21 Martha Fisher Award for Excellence in Teaching, shared advice for a successful career at the Mont Alto campus and beyond.
She advised the students to learn resiliency by preparing for setbacks, challenges, and failure and underscored that these are shared human experiences – the difference is how we learn from our mistakes. She challenged them to always put forth their best effort by daring them to never let someone out-try them. “When you think you have given all you can, know that there is probably more inside you that you haven’t tapped into yet.”
Michael Doncheski, chief academic officer, acknowledged that COVID-19 was a challenge that many of the students overcame to be sitting in Convocation, and he encouraged them to approach 2021 with a positive attitude to make this year an adventure not an ordeal. He closed by reminding the students each of them reflects Penn State’s values and he charged them with living those values every day.
The incoming class hails from 14 states – Alaska, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, West Virginia, Michigan, Florida and Virginia – and has an average grade-point-average of 3.44.
Forty-eight percent of the class identifies as a first-generation college student, 5% are adult learners and 32% are connected to a Penn State alumnus. Sixty-two percent of the class is pursuing a health-related degree and 27% are in the Associate in Science in Forest Technology program. Additional focuses of study are engineering, agriculture and science.