Penn State Berks Alumni Society celebrates 2023 award recipients

Berks 2023 Alumni Awards winners

From L to R: Jumah P. Taweh, Alumni Achievement Award recipient; Cory Varona Corniel, Outstanding Young Alumnae co-recipient, and Pamela Shupp Menet, Volunteer Service Award recipient. Not pictured: Nicol Varona Cancelmo, Outstanding Young Alumnae co-recipient.

Credit: Samantha Bower

WYOMISSING, Pa. — The Penn State Berks Alumni Society celebrated three alumni who received awards for 2023 during its awards ceremony on April 25. Cory Varona Corniel and Nicol Varona Cancelmo received the Outstanding Young Alumnae Award, Jumah P. Taweh earned the Alumni Achievement Award, and Pamela Shupp Menet received the Volunteer Service Award. 

2023 Outstanding Young Alumnae Award: Cory Varona Corniel, Class of 2011, and Nicol Varona Cancelmo, Class of 2013 

After earning their bachelor’s degrees in business in 2011 and 2013, respectively, sisters Cory and Nicol co-founded DN Organics in 2021 to provide clean haircare products for Latinas. In 2023 they rebranded to OCOA and expanded their product line, won first place in tecBRIDGE, a non-collegiate business plan competition, and won the Berks County Latino Chamber Young Entrepreneur Award.  

OCOA has received recognition from Forbes, POPSUGAR and BELatina. Since September 2022, OCOA has been accepted into two national programs — the Credo for Change Clean Beauty Mentorship Program and Digital Undivided’s Breakthrough Philly Cohort. 

In 2023, they launched Helping Hermanas, an initiative to donate full-size products to the community along with a message of self-love and acceptance to empower young girls and boys in Reading. Despite their business success, Cory and Nicol constantly give back to the Reading community by sharing their entrepreneurial story with audiences of all ages, representing their alma mater in various capacities. 

This award recognizes an emerging alumni leader, under 35, who has extraordinary loyalty and service to Penn State Berks and has demonstrated outstanding professional, community and educational accomplishments.

2023 Alumni Achievement Award: Jumah P. Taweh, Class of 2010 

After earning her bachelor’s degree in communication arts and sciences with a focus on intercultural communications, Taweh received the master of arts degree in communications studies from Ball State University. Currently, she serves as the director of emerging scholars at Clemson University.  

Taweh’s charitable activities include volunteering with her church community as a Sunday school teacher, committee member and tutor. She also volunteers with GirlUP GVL, a nonprofit organization empowering Black and brown girls to reach their highest potential.  

The Alumni Achievement Award was designed for a Penn State Berks alumnus who exemplifies leadership in their profession, contributes to the betterment of society, and exhibits extraordinary professional and community accomplishments.

Volunteer Service Award: Pamela Shupp Menet 

As chairperson of the Penn State Berks Advisory Board, Shupp Menet identifies opportunities for the campus to get involved in the community and create connections for campus leadership and students.  

Outside of her role on the advisory board, she has served as a commencement speaker for the college and on the Berks LaunchBox Advisory Council. 

This award is given to an individual who represents the University and its mission and significantly contributes to fostering advancement at Penn State Berks by dedicating their time, talent, and resources on behalf of the college.  

For more information on the Penn State Berks Alumni Society, contact Heather Wise, assistant director of alumni relations, at [email protected]