Penn State Altoona announces spring 2022 student marshals

Slep Student Center at Penn State Altoona

The Slep Student Center overlooking the reflecting pond and fountain on the Penn State Altoona campus.

Credit: Penn State

ALTOONA, Pa. — Penn State Altoona has announced the student marshals for spring 2022 commencement. Student marshals are chosen to represent their academic division based on outstanding academic achievement.

At Penn State Altoona, student marshals lead graduating students from their division during the commencement procession. Penn State Altoona will hold its spring 2022 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 7.

Below are testimonials from each of the four student marshals.

Sidra Arshad

Bachelor of arts in English
Student marshal for the Division of Arts and Humanities

"I wasn’t a bad student before I came to Penn State Altoona, but I also never felt the need to apply myself beyond getting decent grades. If I’m being honest with myself, it was just the fear of trying and potentially still failing that held me back. Now, I know failure is not only a possibility, but also an expectation in life, and I’ve become marginally more comfortable with that reality since coming to the Altoona campus.

"Memories of my last year of high school are marked by that same fear of failure; it felt like I was failing by going to Altoona, despite the fact that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving home yet. I thought that I wouldn’t grow as a person because the only thing that was changing was the environment I would be learning in. I imagined being stuck — being the exact same person after four years — the only proof of time progressing would be a diploma in my hand.

"As I’m now in my last semester of undergrad, I can look back and say that I had a really skewed understanding of what failure really is and what exactly it means to grow as a person. Development doesn’t exactly wait for you to change locations, it comes with each new experience, and growth just means adapting with what comes. I attribute a large part of that growth to my professors. I genuinely don’t think that I would have done as well as I have without them. From my undergraduate research, to what I’ve learned in the Writing Commons, and even in the scholarship work that I’ve done outside of campus, I have a professor to thank for each one of these experiences. They showed me that I have people in my corner who believe in me — who’ve seen my efforts and their outcomes — which has helped me to believe in myself now when I need it most."

Joshua M. Hollingshead

Bachelor of science in electro-mechanical engineering technology
Student marshal for the Division of Business, Engineering, Information Sciences and Technology

"I chose to come to Penn State Altoona because it’s a beautiful campus that’s not too far from home; but most importantly because of the relatively small class sizes. Taking classes with 20 or 30 other students allowed me to build close relationships with my peers and talk one-on-one with my professors. Unfortunately, this also meant that my new professors knew all about my classmates and I before we even showed up on the first day (pause for laughter). But despite the small class sizes, this campus leaves a big impact. Not only on all of us students here today but also on the local community. Whether it’s the environmental studies students finding ways to help local farms be more sustainable, the biology students cleaning up Spring Run, or the engineering students building machines for local businesses as their senior projects, we’ve all given back to this community in these past four years just as it has given to us. I hope that everybody graduating here today takes that to heart wherever your life takes you from here so that you continue making the world around you a better place. Good luck and We Are!"

Makenna Betar 

Bachelor of science in elementary and early childhood education
Student marshal for the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences

"I am honored to have been selected as this year’s student marshal for the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences for the graduating class of spring 2022.

"I am thankful for everyone who supported me throughout my journey at Penn State Altoona. I am thankful for all my professors who have taught me so much and helped me along my journey to becoming a teacher. I am also thankful to have been paired with two wonderful mentor teachers who helped me learn and grow to become a better teacher. Lastly, I would like to thank my family, and my strongest support system who helped me throughout not only these past four years, but my entire life.

"Penn State will always have a special place in my heart. I have learned so much from my time here, and I am eager to go into the field of teaching so I can continue to learn and use what I learned at Penn State Altoona to become a better teacher. The education program at Penn State Altoona helped me discover my passion for teaching and helped me use this passion to do my best as a teacher. I plan to use what I learned during my time here at Penn State Altoona and continue to grow as I enter my career."

Katherine Kearse

Bachelor of Science in biology
Student marshal for the Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

"Four years ago, I chose to attend Penn State Altoona because it was a small campus that would help ease my transition into college while still having a big name, it had a pretty campus, and because of its close proximity to State College. Two years later, I chose to stay at Penn State Altoona to finish my degree because of the amazing professors that are passionate and caring, the great research opportunities (shout out to Dr. Bell and Dr. LaDage), and the tight-knit community of students and faculty. Today, I am honored to be the spring 2022 student marshal for the Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

"After finishing high school and upon entering college, I was not sure entirely of what career I wanted to pursue. However, with the help of devoted professors, amazing advisers, and a wide range of interesting classes, I was able to find my niche in the field of biology. I will be forever grateful to my professors for passing on their immense wealth of knowledge to me. I would also like to thank my friends, who have always been in my corner pushing me to work hard while also pushing me to still have fun. Lastly, I cannot thank my parents and family enough for their incredible amounts of daily love, support and encouragement. I don’t know where I’d be without any of you.

"Graduation is a very bittersweet moment — feelings of melancholy for leaving this period of my life and the place that has been my second home for the past four years — but also excitement for the next steps and what the future holds. Graduating from college has always been a dream and having done so at Penn State Altoona has made it all the better. To my fellow graduates, as we go on to achieve our next dream, I wish you all the best of luck, and I can’t wait to see all that you achieve. Congratulations, Penn State Altoona Class of 2022!"

Contact