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Meet the THON 2014 Directors: Jessica Steciw, Special Events Director

With THON season in full swing, we conducted a series of interviews with each member of the THON 2014 Executive Committee in order to better connect the Penn State community with the leaders of the largest student run philanthropy in the world. This week features Special Events Director Jessica Steciw.

Jessica Steciw, Special Events Director

Year: Senior

Major/Minor: Public Relations

Fun Fact: My senior year of high school, I broke both of my feet at the same time.

Onward State: Why did you apply to be a part of the Executive Committee for THON 2014?

Jessica Steciw: I think that there are two answers to that question. The first part is that as soon as THON weekend was over last year and everyone’s responsibilities kind of dispersed, I instantly knew. I was like “I want to start right now for 2014.” THON to me is so year-round that I couldn’t possibly wait until even spring captain positions because I just wanted to start right away. That was my immediate reason for wanting to apply, but on a much deeper level, I feel like every year I get such a deeper drive to want to do more and have more impact and bring every skill I have to the table to help make this organization that I love everything it can be.

OS: Summarize some of the responsibilities of the Special Events Committee, and then the role you play as Director within those responsibilities.

JS: The mission of Special Events is really to continue the year-round effort at all times. A lot of our major events, like the THON 5K, Family Carnival, Road to THON Celebration, people know about all of those. But there are a lot of smaller events that happen year-round too, like the THON’s Got Talent competition, hair donations, and different things like that. They just sort of carry the spirit of THON out of just the weekend and really bring it throughout the entire year because we’re with the families at all times so we want to do things always to show them that we’re there for them. In terms of my specific responsibilities as the director, over the summer I really laid all the groundwork for the events, but now that I have captains they’re all in charge of the events themselves. So I’m just kind of a support system for them for anything they may need. They’re the event planners, and these are their events and they have a ton of responsibilities so I’m just overseeing all of it and there to help them in any way that I can.

OS: What are your overall goals for this year? What are you looking to change and improve to make the Special Events Committee the best it can be?

JS: I really want to try to get orgs as involved as possible in some of the major events like the THON 5K and even Family Carnival, just to make everyone feel connected to these. I feel like everyone is always invited to the THON 5K but it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is as included as they could be. So just kind of working with fundraising organizations on campus to see what they need from us to connect THON as well because we really are one family and we’re all in it together. Other visions are to really include the Special Events Committee Members as much as possible. The captains are the event planners, but there are 120 Special Events Committee Members who are also the backbones of these events. They’re the workhorses, and they spend weeks on weeks preparing for these events with their captains, so just making sure that they have as big a role as possible and that they get to attend the event and see the reward of all of their hard work. We also have a new event this year that we’re doing. It’s on the smaller side, but it’s on Parents and Families Weekend, and it is for all parents. It’s just an hour long in the HUB on a Saturday and it’s kind of an informational session meets a family carnival, so we’ll have a couple of small games on the floor (it takes place in Heritage Hall), but then in between the games we’ll take breaks and we’ll have a faculty speaker and a Four Diamonds family speaker. It’s to help parents wrap their heads around what THON is, because it’s right after committee members are chosen and a lot of times, parents are like “What is this thing that my child has joined, I don’t understand, I don’t know how it works,” so we just want them to understand that as much as possible. So I’m really excited about that because it’s never been done before and I think it can have a huge impact.

OS: What moment or moments are you most looking forward to during this upcoming THON year? Be as specific or vague as you’d like.

JS: I’m excited for every single one of the events that happens, and I truly mean that. I’m not any more excited for the 5K than I am for the THON’s Got Talent concert THON weekend. Every single one of them is so important and I’m so excited to see my captains faces during their event when they know that they have had such an impact on THON. So I’m excited for that.

OS: Why do you THON?

JS: I think the reason why I started to THON is different than the reason I THON now. I started to THON because I wanted to find a group of people that was like me, and had similar goals; people who want to make the world a better place and want to change the world. Since being involved in this organization, that’s really changed, and now I feel like I understand this cause very specifically. Last year I had a chance to go visit the Hershey Medical Center, and I was sitting with this little girl and it was raining outside. I said something like “Oh, I hate the rain, I hate that it’s raining,” and she was like “Why? I love the rain!” And I was like “You love the rain? Who loves the rain?” And she said “Well, without rain, you’d never see a rainbow,” and I have carried that memory with me. When I’m up at 2 in the morning doing work on my computer and I’m like “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this, why am I doing this,” I remember that little girl who was able to see the rainbow through the rain, and that’s kind of what THON is to me. We don’t pretend cancer is not there. The rain is there. You don’t ignore the bad stuff, but you look through it, and you see the light, and that’s what THON is. I always remind myself of that story, and that’s why I THON now.

OS: Name an event or two that you think will make this year’s line dance.

JS: Jen and Darcy, our new advisors, for sure. And Miley Cyrus too.

OS: If you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?

I wouldn’t be one that eats the other dinosaurs because I’m not violent. I’d be like a plant eater, because they’re nicer.

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About the Author

Anna Ungar

Penn State Class of 2015 Visual Communications major, Onward State photographer, THON 2014 Public Relations Captain, Camp Kesem of Penn State Marketing & PR Coordinator, anglophile, lover of chocolate milk, bows, cats, The Office, photography, Morgan Freeman, and british accents. Orders a side of pickles with everything.


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