Digital series planned for new Commonwealth Campus students in summer programs

University Park, Pa. – Penn State will deliver a robust virtual speaker series to new students enrolled at the Commonwealth Campuses this summer. Students in the Pathway to Success: Summer Start (PaSSS) and Summer Start programs will take classes and participate in activities including the new digital series and academies focused on technology, math and English.

“Our early-start summer programs have always been designed to give students a jump on their Penn State experience and to provide enrichment opportunities to prepare them fully for future success,” said Dr. Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses and executive chancellor. “We recognize that this year, students are arriving at Penn State having faced unprecedented challenges. The addition of our series of virtual presenters is aimed to further engage these students and help ensure their smooth transition to learning and living at Penn State.”

On July 2, University President Eric Barron will address the new students about building a positive Penn State experience, committing to Penn State values, and becoming a part of the community. This will provide a special opportunity for students to understand Penn State’s “We Are” identity from the very start of their time at the University.  

Football Coach James Franklin and a panel of current students from several campuses will continue the discussion on gaining a sense of belonging within Penn State during a July 15 presentation.   

Students also will hear from members of the alumni community who overcame personal challenges during their time at Penn State and went on to remarkable careers. On July 16, Mandy Marquardt will give her “alumni story” as an American Sprint track cyclist and a representative of the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team. The 2-time National Record Holder will describe her experience graduating from Penn State Lehigh Valley and show students the opportunities they have to develop their identities.

Throughout the summer, students will also hear from experts on developing personal mission statements and academic plans to carry throughout their college careers, learning financial literacy terms and the best practices for budgeting, and understanding the University’s commitment to  diversity, equity, and inclusion. Other presentations focus on building good habits for personal health and well-being, including exercise, nutrition, and stress management.

The last presentation on August 6 informs students about COVID-19 health standards as they prepare for the fall semester.

“This digital series complements the work of our faculty who have developed remote courses specifically for new college learners.  The summer programs help to give new students a head start on their university experience amidst the major disruption faced during the pandemic. Their learning from the selected speakers and additional engagement in remote workshops and other offerings will help to prepare them for success at Penn State,” said Penny Carlson, assistant vice president, executive director for academic services and assessment.  “We are very excited to welcome and support our newest Penn Staters this summer.”