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Alumni Association Honors 15 Young Alums With 2019 Achievement Award

The Penn State Alumni Association will honor 15 prominent young alumni at this year’s Alumni Achievement Awards on Friday, March 29. Honorees will be recognized when they visit campus for guest lectures, student engagements, and the awards ceremony.

Recipients are nominated by an academic college or campus and invited by Penn State President Eric Barron to return to campus to share their expertise with students and the Penn State community.

Honorees demonstrate how Penn State alumni can succeed at an early age. Past recipients have included Devon Still, Keegan-Michael Key, John Urschel, and Scott Shirley.

Many of the honorees will meet with students to share insights on their successes in life and business while they’re back in State College.

This year’s recipients are as follows, with bio information provided by the Alumni Association:

  • Iyadh Abid (2016 Penn State Law graduate): advisor to the Minister of Development, Investment, and International Cooperation of Tunisia
  • Donald Cella (2013 Smeal College of Business graduate): founded Pittsburgh’s Limelight Tile & Ceramics, a custom ceramic tile manufacturer company
  • Teleicia Dambreville (2013 Penn State Law graduate): in-house counsel for Burlington Stores, Inc.
  • Laura Dassama, (2013 Eberly College of Science graduate): assistant professor of chemistry at Stanford University
  • Renee Donahue (2011 College of Medicine graduate): staff scientist and head of the Molecular Immunology Group in the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, National Cancer Institute
  • Shadi Ghrayeb (2008 and 2013 College of Engineering graduate, 2012 School of International Affairs graduate): nuclear engineer, Division of Reactor Projects, Region 1 Office with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Brittany Hawkins (2008 College of Health and Human Development graduate): co-founder and CEO of Pathways Community Living, an agency dedicated to providing services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Pittsburgh area
  • Daniel Kapinos (2008 Eberly College of Science graduate): the youngest partner (33 years old) at Aon, a $35B global professional services firm
  • Daniel Lentz (2010 College of Earth and Mineral Sciences graduate): product development specialist at 3M
  • Brian Patchcoski (2010 College of Education graduate): director of Penn State’s LGBTQA Student Resource Center
  • James Riney (2011 Smeal College of Business, College of the Liberal Arts graduate): launched the Japan fund for 500 Startups, a venture capital firm that helps entrepreneurs create successful companies at scale and build thriving global ecosystems
  • Benjamin Ross, (2006 and 2007 College of Engineering graduate): founder and chief technical officer of POWr.io, which provides customizable, easy-to-use, and affordable solutions to help business grow online
  • Devan Shimoyama (2011 College of Arts and Architecture graduate): Cooper-Siegel Assistant Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Aniyia Williams (2007 College of Arts and Architecture graduate): founder and chief executive officer of Tinsel, executive director of Black and Brown Founders, and co-founder of Zebras Unite
  • Jay Yonamine (2013 College of the Liberal Arts graduate): head of data science and operations for Google’s Global Patents organization

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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