THON Director Thursday: Meet Tech Director PJ Weaver
Name: PJ Weaver
Major: Statistics and Computing, Business Minor
Past THON Experience:
THON 2015 – Dancer Relations Committee Member, THON 2016 – Technology Captain: Special Projects Developer
Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:
I was enrolled in Martial Arts classes for 12 years back home in Massachusetts, and have a first-degree black belt. I also taught karate to 7-9 year old students for 5 years.
What made you want to apply for the Technology Director position for THON 2017?
To me, one of the most beautiful things about THON is the unity and passion of the thousands of volunteers involved in it, and I’ve been humbled to be a part of this organization throughout my years at Penn State. As such, I initially decided to apply for the Technology Director position for THON 2017 because the position would help me give back to the organization that helped me grow into the person I am today.
Additionally, anyone who’s been to THON can tell you that participating in THON Weekend is a truly powerful experience. By being a director for one of the most integral committees in THON, I knew that I would have the opportunity to lead 21 tech-savvy individuals (all with the same interests & passions that I have) and guide them through the best year of their lives, just as my previous captains/directors did for me. This dedication to my committee motivates me to this day.
What are your responsibilities as the Technology Director?
The duties of the Technology Director are to oversee the combined efforts of the different teams that compose the Technology Committee. The committee consists of 21 captains, each responsible for maintaining & developing THON.org, the THON Store, the Pass System, THINK (the THON Information NetworK), and everything in between. As Technology Director, I work with my committee year-round to provide efficient & effective technical support to the rest of THON, and ensure that the organization’s technical needs are satisfied.
What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?
This year, my captains & I have our sights set on redesigning two of THON’s most integral websites & fundraising tools – THINK.thon.org and THON.org. By redesigning THINK, we hope to streamline communication within our organization, allowing THON as a whole to fundraise and collaborate as efficiently as possible. By redesigning THON.org, we hope to give our organization a fresh new face, making our external presence more impactful to our outside stakeholders (students looking to get involved, donors, etc.). These are ambitious projects to tackle in one year, but one year isn’t a lot of time to make a difference. A year from now, I’ll be proud to look back and know that my captains & I made the most of it.
What makes the Technology committee so cool, fun, and/or important?
The Technology Committee is integral to the success of THON as a whole in that every participant in THON uses our systems in some way. This is one of the things that I’ve come to love most about the Technology committee – with every line of code the committee writes, we make an impact that THON’s internal volunteers and external stakeholders alike will benefit from. Having the opportunity to work behind the scenes year-round to benefit such an influential organization is gratifying beyond words.
What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2017?
I hope to use my year as a Director to leave THON in a better place than I found it. I believe that the 2017 Technology Committee can do this by working to make THON’s systems as efficient as possible. In the Tech world, there’s never a shortage of ways to innovate & improve what you’re working on. By encouraging my captains to adopt this attitude and challenging them to look critically at our pre-existing systems, I hope to provide the THON community with resources that will streamline our collaborative fundraising efforts. In this way, I also hope to spotlight the immense amount of work that Technology does behind-the-scenes, and the impact that the committee has on THON.
Why do you THON?
As one of the many people whose lives have been touched by cancer, I THON in honor of those fighting the toughest battles of their lives. I first gained an understanding of the evil that is cancer when my childhood friend lost her battle with it at the age of 7. As a bystander, I watched cancer take everything from her, and leave her family crippled with loss. Coming to Penn State as a shy freshman, THON not only seemed like the perfect niche to get involved in, but also as an opportunity for me to personally honor my friend’s life.
THON is so much more than an organization to every single person that’s involved in it – to students, it’s an opportunity to become a part of something larger than yourself, and to families, it’s a beacon of hope in the darkest of times. I wake up each morning thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given, and excited to make a difference in a community that has had such an impact on countless others.
What’s your favorite THON memory?
My favorite THON memory is a specific encounter I had with a concerned parent in the Tech booth last year, during THON Weekend. After waiting for a long time to visit with her daughter (who was struggling on the floor at the time), she came to the Tech booth in tears asking for an update on her progress through the digital line. During our conversation, I took note of her name and asked her to return in a little while. The next time I saw her at the Tech booth a few hours later, by remembering her name, I was able to add a personal touch that drastically improved her negative experience. This THON memory, while unconventional, taught me how much of an impact I can make on the people around me, all through something as small as remembering someone’s name.
Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?
I’d probably be an Apatosaurus, because Littlefoot was my favorite character from The Land Before Time.