Penn State Mont Alto Founders Convocation opens academic year

New students urged to get involved and create their own Penn State stories
Mont Alto Convocation 2019

Chancellor Francis K. Achampong addresses new students during Penn State Mont Alto's Founders Convocation.

Credit: Roxann Miller

MONT ALTO, Pa. ― “You have the power to create your Penn State story,” said Penn State Student Government President Kirsten Tercek during Penn State Mont Alto’s Founders Convocation, held in the Multipurpose Activities Center on Aug. 24.

Like all Penn Staters, Tercek said her story is uniquely her own.

Her story began 1,200 miles away in a small town in Louisiana. When her high school classmates were checking out colleges in Louisiana, Tercek had her sights set on Penn State.

Now on the cusp of graduating in 2020 with a health policy administration degree, Tercek advised incoming students to create their own Penn State story by getting involved.

“The story will come from what you do between your classes. …Your education is what matters, but so are the events between and after classes,” she said.

“If you make the decision to stay and get involved, your time here will fly by and before you know it, you will be graduating and not wanting to leave the family and home you have created,” said Tercek.

Adjunct Professor of Choral Music J. Frederick Davison opened and closed the ceremony, which officially marks the start of the 2019-20 academic year, with singing of the national anthem and Penn State Alma Mater, respectively.

Director of Enrollment Management Diane Chamberlin welcomed the incoming class of students, who hail from Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Maryland; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Brazil.

“A Penn State degree will open doors to new and exciting experiences throughout your life,” Chamberlin told the more than 200 students assembled.

“You’ve heard a lot about making this your story. I challenge you to create it by taking advantage of all the resources offered to you on this campus. Live it by being involved and making your mark on this campus, and at Penn State. And finally, share it by telling others of your experience so they may benefit as well,” Chamberlin said.

Chancellor Francis K. Achampong told the students they made the right decision by coming to Penn State Mont Alto.

“This is the beginning of an important personal and professional journey for you, one that I hope will be transformative,” he said.

Convocation speaker Beth Neisser, mathematics lecturer and recipient of the 2019 Student Government Association Award for Excellence in Advising, outlined the elements of a good story.

“Look around you, these may be the characters in your story … embrace them. They have much to add to your story,” Neisser said.

“Think of not only this beautiful campus, but beyond. The possibilities for off-campus engagement are endless ― volunteer, do an internship, cheer on our athletic teams at another campus. Get involved, make memories and reflect on this exciting story that you are about to create.” she said.

Chief Academic Officer Michael Doncheski closed convocation by urging students to create a story that evokes pride.

“I am a very proud Penn Stater. I am very proud of my story and I’ve lived my life proudly,” said Doncheski, who started his academic career at Penn State more than 30 year ago. “I challenge you to do the same. Live as if you want a student 50 years from now to hear your story and say, ‘Wow, that was a real Penn Stater. I hope I can achieve that much.’”

More photos from the ceremony area available online at