The Penn State Berks Alumni Society will honor several of its members during their awards ceremony on Thursday, April 21. The Volunteer Service Award will be presented to three alumni: Amanda Alpuche, Brooke Burkey Rinker and Bernadette Samanns; the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award to Nicholas Yeager; and Zachary A. Karazsia will receive the Alumni Achievement Award. Listed below are edited and abridged comments submitted through nominations.
Volunteer Service Award: Amanda Alpuche, class of 2018, Brooke Burkey Rinker, class of 2015, and Bernadette Samanns, class of 2018
As students at Penn State Berks, Alpuche, Burkey Rinker, and Samanns were active in the Berks Benefitting THON (BBT) student organization, whose main mission is to raise funds in support of THON. They served in various roles on the executive board for the organization. Under their guidance as student leaders, BBT rose to the top ranks for fundraising among Commonwealth Campuses.
After graduation, all three continued to volunteer with BBT as co-advisors, a role that requires at least five hours on a weekly basis. Often, there are multiple events, both on and off campus, in addition to weekly meetings with executive board members, students and adopted families. With their guidance, BBT has continued to excel, remaining in the top five of the Commonwealth Campuses for THON fundraising.
In addition, all three now serve on the board for the Alumni Society.
Outstanding Young Alumnus: Nicholas Yeager, class of 2010
As a first-generation college student, Yeager faced many challenges which he embraced, stepping outside his comfort zone to take advantage of unique opportunities. These opportunities, including internships and a co-op, helped to set him up for a career in Big Tech.
Yeager has traveled the world in his position at Google and he has moved into a leadership role which is changing the way Google does business internally. He leads a team that is working to transition their hardware lines to cloud-based access. Yeager is in a place in his career where he can give back to Berks with his time, talent and treasure and has begun to do so. He has hosted a group of the college’s information technology students at Google. In addition, he sits on the board of "Dream Come True-Lehigh Valley," a non-profit which grants wishes for children with terminal illnesses.
Alumni Achievement Award: Zachary A. Karazsia, class of 2009
Karazsia had a double major in communication arts and sciences and global studies at Penn State Berks, and he served as student government association president.
He has incorporated the knowledge he gained in both degree programs into his career as a tenure-track professor at Valdosta State University. His research centers on areas including Holocaust/genocide studies, political violence and revolution, Sub-Saharan Africa, and international relations. Karazsia teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in subjects including democracy and public administration, African politics, film and genocide, political science, and more.
Karazsia discovered his love of politics and rhetoric at Penn State Berks and has carried those first loves with him, making a positive impact on the world through his research and teaching. He is dedicating his career to giving back to the world as a scholar, mentor, and agent of change in African nations.
For more information on the Penn State Berks Alumni Society, contact Heather Wise, assistant director of alumni relations, at [email protected].