Sending a 'We Are!' to these Penn Staters

Nittany Lion Hug

As part of our regular “We Are!” feature, we recognize 10 Penn Staters who have gone above and beyond what’s asked of them in their work at the University. 

Credit: Penn State

As part of our regular “We Are!” feature, we recognize nine Penn Staters who have gone above and beyond what’s asked of them in their work at the University. 

This week, on behalf of the entire Penn State community, we’d like to say thank you to: 

  • Heidi Dorefice, event coordinator in the Graduate School, who received multiple nominations. One nominator wrote: “Heidi does an amazing job planning Graduate School events. She balances multiple events simultaneously, never misses a detail and always comes in under budget. She goes the extra mile to ensure all graduate students and alumni feel welcome and a part of the Graduate School community.” Another nominator wrote: “Heidi brings so much joy and positivity to the work she does. She works incredibly hard and keeps a great sense of humor. She is excellent at coordinating with others and always wants to do the right thing for the students, alumni and others. Everyone at Penn State should be more like Heidi!” 
  • Margaret Higgins, academic adviser in the College of Arts and Architecture, whose nominator wrote: “Margaret is incredibly devoted to the mission of advising our music students, whether they be majors or minors. The complexities of our various degree programs are sometimes a challenge for students to navigate, but Margaret always has their backs. And she always does so with a smile!” 
  • Angela Hissong, professor in charge and teaching professor of occupational therapy at Penn State Mont Alto, whose nominator wrote: “Dr. Hissong has led the Penn State Mont Alto Occupational Therapy Assistant program for many years and is the heart of Penn State occupational therapy. She is now the founding program director for the developing master’s in occupational therapy program at Penn State, set to launch in the fall of 2025. 
  • Debra King, administrative support coordinator in the College of Engineering, whose nominator wrote: “Deb works tirelessly coordinating schedules and meetings for three associate deans, supporting fellow staff throughout the college, and taking on additional responsibilities with enthusiasm. She is kind, respectful and helpful to all, and often makes the difficult seem easy.” 
  • Ashley Kolat, department operations assistant in the College of Education, whose nominator wrote: “Ashley is a great co-worker. She is always eager to learn and help with our department’s needs. She is the best!” 
  • Danielle Osborne, administrative assistant at Penn State Brandywine, whose nominator wrote: “Danielle stepped up to coordinate the Brandywine Learning Center and Writing Studio tutors on an interim basis during transitions in staffing for our Success Center. Friendly and professional, Danielle bridged from supporting students through admissions to supporting student learning.” 
  • Krissy Pydynowski, talent acquisition specialist in Human Resources, whose nominator wrote: “Krissy is a standout employee and colleague! She is always eager to assist or answer complex questions, or willing to strategize. She makes time in her busy schedule to meet with you and is always positive and friendly. Krissy is an asset to the HR team and to the University!”   
  • Amanda Szymanski, director of federal and state programs in the Office of Student Aid, whose nominator wrote: “Amanda goes above and beyond every day making decisions that impact the entire University and does so with integrity and compassion. She is an incredible advocate for students and staff, deserving unending credit for the work she does to ensure students receive all available assistance that they can.” 
  • Deborah Thorpe, grants management specialist in the Nese College of Nursing, whose nominator wrote: “Deb goes above and beyond to support our faculty. She works tirelessly to ensure that awards are set up, that money is spent appropriately and that reports are submitted on time. She also works very hard at labor distribution. Thank you!” 

Thank you Heidi, Margaret, Angela, Debra, Ashley, Danielle, Krissy, Amanda and Deborah — and to everyone who helps make Penn State such an incredible community! 

Do you know someone who deserves a shoutout? If you do, consider nominating that person by filling out a short online form


Jessica Hallman

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