Penn State Altoona announces spring 2023 student marshals

Slep Student Center at Penn State Altoona

Penn State Altoona has announced the student marshals for the spring 2023 commencement. Student marshals are chosen to represent their academic division based on outstanding academic achievement.

Credit: Penn State

ALTOONA, Pa. — Penn State Altoona has announced the student marshals for spring 2023 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 2023 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6.

Below are testimonials from each of the four student marshals:

Christian Howard

Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Arts
Student marshal for the Division of Arts and Humanities

It is a great honor to represent the Arts and Humanities here at Penn State Altoona. When I first arrived on campus, I, like many others, had no idea what I wanted to do. I saw Penn State Altoona as a starting place, but as opportunity and place found me, it quickly became my ending place as well.

Within the first week, I found a home in the Misciagna building. What was once just a quiet place to study became my second home on campus, one that I even contemplated moving into on those long rehearsal nights. Wrapped up in music, theatre, and dance, the Integrative Arts major was a no-brainer. The brilliant faculty here helped to guide and refine my artistry. They gave me something that money can't buy: their time. Going above and beyond the call of duty and sharing their wisdom and passion to see me succeed and blossom into the artist I am quickly becoming. This intimate, personal connection is something you cannot find anywhere else. That is true education. This is not my entire journey, this is just the genesis of something great.

Even through the struggles, unforeseen circumstances, pandemics, one thing is for certain: art survives. We adapt. The light of the human spirit and its expression perseveres, even in the faces of those who seek to snuff it out.

Brett Eckenrode

Bachelor of Science in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology
Student marshal for the Division of Business, Education, and Information Sciences and Technology

Ever since I was little, becoming an engineer has been my dream. However, as the years came and went, the answer to the question "what type of engineer?" still eluded me. I had developed a liking for designing and 3D modeling, electricity and its hardware, and computers and coding. Throughout grade school, I was unable to narrow my choice. In the end, all it took was one trip to Penn State Altoona and my mind was made up. The day I toured the campus, I knew I was joining Penn State Altoona's Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) program.

The EMET program at Penn State Altoona was perfect. It synergized the best aspects of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering into one flowing degree. I believe that this program creates engineers who can understand every piece of a machine, mechanism, or process so that anything they produce is not just theoretical, but realistic and machinable.

Over my four years at this beautiful campus, I have been presented with a multitude of opportunities. In the mornings or between classes, I was able to work at Port-Sky Café, where I made friends, memories, and income to help pay for schooling. During nights, I was part of the Altoona Motorsports club, where I put my newfound engineering skills to the test by designing and manufacturing a competition-worthy Baja car, learning from the masters as the engineering support specialists passed on their knowledge and steered us toward success.

Classes at Penn State Altoona made me strive to do my best while making me feel welcome. Nearly all my professors knew me by name and would even greet me in passing. They care about my success, they love to teach, and they always are ready and willing to help. The great faculty and staff of Penn State Altoona are what makes this campus great; they guided me on my path to becoming the man and engineer that I am today. If I could go back in time, I would not change a thing. I am proud to be an EMET graduate from Penn State Altoona.

Macie Hicks

Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Early Childhood Education
Student marshal for the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences

I am truly honored to have been selected as the student marshal for the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences for the graduating class of spring 2023.

What a privilege it has been to pursue my passion for education and love for teaching young learners at Penn State! Penn State's diverse community and enriching academics reiterate its prestige, alongside its fervent faculty and abounding opportunities for success. I am so thankful to have experienced college as a Nittany Lion! The community at Penn State has encouraged me to explore myself and the world around me. Attending college mid-pandemic was a unique experience that taught me how to recognize hardships as opportunities and readily respond to difficulties with optimism and hard work. Despite failures or adversity, I believe that how one responds to uncontrollable circumstances determines their achievement in controllable circumstances. My field experience as a first-grade student teacher was the first time I was able to reflect on my growth as an individual responding to circumstances out of my control. What a meaningful, eye-opening experience it was to actively rehearse the ability to acknowledge spontaneous situations with confidence and composure. In a world of uncertainty, remain assured that you will triumph over your most difficult hardships by focusing on those aspects of life you can control. The world is one big classroom, so despite adversity, appreciate your teachers, love your peers, and never stop striving to learn all of life’s infinite lessons.

I would like to give a special "thank you" to my family, friends, supervisors, mentor teacher, and 18 of the sweetest first graders, with an honorary shoutout to my remarkable mom! None of my accomplishments would have been possible without your immense support. Your love and encouragement have meant more to me than you know!

We Are, and always will be, Penn State!

Emma Hoover

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

I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for my time here at Penn State Altoona. When I first started college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was convinced I was going to be a mechanical engineer. I was part of the 2+2 program and I transferred to University Park after my first two years in college. However, it only took me a few short days to realize that I wasn’t where I should be. With the help of some amazing professors (shoutout to Dr. Juan Gil!), I was able to find my path in mathematics. I promptly transferred back to Penn State Altoona as a mathematics major, and it was the best decision I could have made.

Upon my return to Altoona, I became involved in research in mathematics, and I became president of the Math Club. Through the Math Club, I have made lifelong friendships, for which I will forever be grateful. And through research, I have had many enriching experiences. Research has taught me to think in a different way. I have learned to look at things from every possible angle.

I would like to say a special thanks to my mentor and friend, Dr. Juan Gil. Thank you for everything you have done for me. I will forever be grateful for your wisdom and guidance. Thank you for helping me become the mathematician I am today.