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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2019 Communications Director Emily Purnell

With THON on the horizon, it’s already that time of the year again. Each week before THON, we’ll feature a new member of the THON 2019 Executive Committee. 

Committee directors work hard to make sure everything runs smoothly during the weeks leading up to THON and the big weekend itself. The first THON Director Thursday this year features Communications Director Emily Purnell.

Name: Emily Purnell
Major: MAcc (Accounting) and Spanish
Past THON Experience:
THON 2016: Finance Committee Member
THON 2017: Communications Committee Member & Family Relations Chair for Schreyer Student Council
THON 2018: Communications Captain & Primary THON Chair for Schreyer Student Council

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:

I alternate dipping my Chick-Fil-A nuggets into different sauces so that each bite is a new flavor.

What made you want to apply for the Communications Director position for THON 2019?

The moment that I truly fell in love with THON was through my finance committee freshman year. I applied to the committee, not knowing what a committee really was and was ecstatic when I received the phone call telling me I got the position. Following my freshman year, cancer affected my best friend’s family, and I knew then that I wanted to do more.

After that, I had the most amazing experiences in the THON community as the Family Relations Chair of my organization, Schreyer Student Council, a Communications Committee Member, a Primary THON Chair, and a Communications Captain. THON 2018 was incredible and I cannot describe it in words; nothing I could say would truly do it justice. It was the most magical weekend of my entire life. Following the weekend though, an upsetting reality hit me: cancer does not stop. I truly believe that one day we will dance in celebration and that cancer cannot dull our inspiration, stop love, or hinder our laughter & smiles. But, there is still so much more to be done, kids to make smile, and people to save. I wanted to be a Director so that I could continue to do more until that day where we are dancing in celebration of a cure.

What are your responsibilities as the Communications Director?

Communications has 3 facets: Organizations, Education, and Outreach. As the Communications Director, I lead a captain committee of 21 captains who in turn lead 105 committee members and are the liaisons to all of the Penn State student body. As the Communications Director, I bring the organization perspective to every meeting, to ensure that we are making decisions with one of our most important stakeholders in mind: our volunteers. I help to spearhead THON’s recruitment efforts to ensure that all students at Penn State are aware of the opportunities to get involved in THON. I also help to ensure all of our student stakeholders are properly informed of THON’s history to be better ambassadors of THON’s brand. Other responsibilities include the THON Blood Drive, overseeing the THON Office, and Captain and Director sleep-shifts THON Weekend.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

This year, I am very passionate about diversity and inclusivity within THON. Myself as well as my captains have a lot of ideas on how we can improve upon this and a lot of our ideas are beginning to come to light which is very exciting. We hope to continue to develop and foster an inclusive environment so that every Penn State student can find their home within THON.

What makes the Communications Committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

Communications is very cool, fun, and important! We are the committee that connects all of our stakeholders together as we work with all of the Committee Members, Organizations, Faculty and Staff, and new students looking to be involved, and help give them the knowledge they need to succeed and empower and embolden them to pursue their passions with THON!

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2019?

I hope that our committee can best educate and inspire all THON Volunteers! We work closest with students who are one of our most important stakeholders, so my goal is that we are able to get as many students involved as well as able to contribute to the best of their abilities.

Why do you THON?

I THON for more magical birthdays. So that kids can focus on just being kids and treat every day as an adventure. Kids are so innocent and pure and have incredible imaginations and deserve the chance to live out all of their fantasies.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory happened about a year ago. My organization I was apart of (Schreyer Student Council) went up to visit our paired Four Diamond’s family, the Tyler Miller family, for Halloween and the PSU-OSU football game. There was barbecuing, nerf gun fights, playing catch, and pumpkin carving before the football game began. For the game, the Millers brought their TV outside because it was such a beautiful night, and we all watched the game together. For each touchdown Penn State scored, we would throw around a bottle of whipped cream and squirt it into our mouths while Tyler’s grandfather recorded it all on Facebook live. Even though Penn State lost the football game, we all had such an amazing time together. It was such a pure, carefree evening where everyone was just enjoying being there together in the moment. I will never forget that game!

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

Parasaurolophus! I am a big fan of the Jurassic Park ride in Universal at Orlando and have always thought this dinosaur looked so cool when it pops out of the water.

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About the Author

Cassady Potts

Cassady is a junior English and journalism major and Onward State's Student Life Editor. She is from York, Pennsylvania and loves iced coffee, books, and women's volleyball. You can find her on campus by looking for the girl who always wears stripes. Feel free to send any questions, comments, or memes via email ([email protected]) and follow her @cassady_potts on Twitter.

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