On campus

SRU Army ROTC cadets earn honors at ceremony

SLIPPERY ROCK — Cadets from Slippery Rock University’s Army ROTC program were recognized for their outstanding achievements at the SRU ROTC Award Ceremony, April 25, at the Slippery Rock Township Municipal Building. The event was sponsored by the Slippery Rock Veterans of Foreign Wars Lacey Christley Post 6231.

“This is a great event that honors the cadets who we work with,” said Damian Hambley, commander of Post 6231 and the Slippery Rock American Legion Post 393. “They help us out and we consider it our duty to honor them.”

Members of both the VFW and American Legion attended the event and helped present awards to the SRU cadets.

“Our cadets do a lot of work inside and outside of our program, but it is not always seen by others,” said Jake Beretta, a junior homeland security major from Harrison City, who helped organize the ceremony on behalf of SRU’s ROTC battalion.

Among the honorees was Tyson Miller, a senior safety management major from Tyrone.

Miller was recognized as a Distinguished Military Student for being in the top one-third of the ROTC class and top half of the academic class.

Col. Joseph Richey, professor of military science and head of Slippery Rock University’s Army ROTC program, presented a saber to Miller, as part of Miller receiving the Sgt. Lacey Christley Award.

Student completes Honors Program

SCRANTON — Elyse Smilnak of Hollidaysburg was among 28 members of the University of Scranton’s class of 2019 who graduated from its undergraduate Honors Program, which is one of the Jesuit university’s programs of excellence.

Students in the Honors Program pursue a rigorous education that stresses independent work through close engagement with professors and other honors students, including the preparation, presentation and defense of a research or creative project during their senior year.

Smilnak worked with Marc Seid, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, on a thesis titled “Effects of Increased Temperature as an Environmental Stressor on Octopamine, Dopamine, and Serotonin Levels in the Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus Impatiens) Brain.”

Smilnak, who graduated magna cum laude, majored in neuroscience and Hispanic studies.

SFU students work with child who is deaf, blind

LORETTO — Several Saint Francis University students worked on a project dedicated to supporting a community need.

Thomas is an 8-year-old boy from Lilly who is mostly blind and deaf.

Eager to help, Saint Francis University Education majors began working on a project to support Thomas’s understanding of and communication with the world around him.

Among the students were Grace McKernan of Warriors Mark, Perez Youmbi of Ebensburg, Mitchell Hogue of Loretto, James McCulley of Ebensburg and Emily Haupt of Duncansville.

Education professor MaryAnn Shaw, along with senior education majors Nicole Lagan and Emily Haupt, connected with chemistry professor Ed Zovinka to partner on this project which is a part of a community-engaged course.

Community-engaged courses provide opportunities for students to work together to affect change in the community as well as gain an enriched learning experience through hands-on activities.

Students apply what they are learning in class to meet a community need.

The education students came up with design ideas for 3D symbols to represent familiar activities and commonly used communication words. They took their ideas to the chemistry students, who have knowledge of 3D printing, to bring the design ideas to life with sturdy, durable and long-lasting images for Thomas to use.

Another challenge for Thomas is scheduling. Children like routines and understanding the plans for the day, but for Thomas, everything is a surprise. The education students built a velcro board and attached objects in an order for Thomas to feel what’s coming next in his day or he can reach to the board for an object and communicate his needs to his parents and caregivers.

Once the 3D objects were printed and ready for Thomas, he was invited to campus to meet with the students and engage with the new objects.

SFU sorority donates $6K to Make-A-Wish

LORETTO — Saint Francis University Phi Delta Kappa Sorority donated $5,972.67 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in March.

This donation has once again awarded Phi Delta Kappa as Wishmakers for the second year in a row benefiting Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

These funds granted the wish of one special individual named Cole.

When 11-year-old Cole says his favorite class in school is recess, one assumption can be made: he loves action.

This spry, young Portage resident had been diagnosed with Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma — a rare childhood brain tumor — so once Make-A-Wish promised to grant him a wish, he could think of only one thing: an action-packed trip to the Disneyland Resort in California.

Phi Delta Kappa was able to raise this money through fundraising efforts at its fourth annual Wish Upon a Par Golf Outing, a Deal or No Deal-style game show hosted for students on campus, a campus volleyball tournament and simply going door-to-door on campus asking for spare change.