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THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2023 Alumni Engagement Director Anna Yankanich

Name: Anna Yankanich

Major: Supply Chain & Information Systems

Past THON experience

THON 2021: OPPerations Committee Member
THON 2022: Donor & Alumni Relations Alumni Engagement Captain

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself

I am a big fan of the British Royal Family and have personally been taking the loss of Her Late Majesty, the Queen, very hard.

What made you want to apply for a Director position for THON 2023?

I wanted to serve as a director for THON 2023 so I could give back to an organization that continues to make such an incredible impact in the lives of families affected by childhood cancer. I also want to take strides to help grow the organization and spread awareness on a large scale. Ultimately, I wanted to get more involved to truly pursue my passion — financially and emotionally supporting our Four Diamonds families.

My experience as an Alumni Engagement Captain for THON 2022 gave me the opportunity to witness the passion and dedication of thousands of alumni supporters. Seeing generations of Penn Staters spreading THON’s mission worldwide is incredibly inspiring, and I wanted to serve as the Alumni Engagement Director to continue spreading our mission to our amazing alumni network and help them make a lasting impact beyond their four years as student volunteers.

What are your responsibilities as a THON Director?

As the Alumni Engagement Director, I serve as the primary liaison between THON and our 25,000+ alumni supporters. I work alongside the Penn State Alumni Association to help engage alumni groups nationwide to spread awareness and fundraise on behalf of THON. I also serve on the board of directors for the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group (DMAIG), a group of passionate Penn State alumni dedicated to continuing the fight past graduation. Finally, I lead a committee of 15 captains and over 100 committee members who work to develop and expand the variety of alumni initiatives we offer and communicate these opportunities to our alumni.

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

This year, I really want to focus on offering alumni education and exposure to the emotional support side of THON’s mission. In the past, we have done a great job with including alumni in our fundraising efforts, as well as supporting alumni groups and THON Nation fundraisers in the development of their own events. I want to ensure that our 25,000+ alumni supporters feel connected to our mission and have the opportunity to hear directly from our families, which is why I am so excited about the Alumni Connection Series! This is a series of three Facebook Livestreams (10/19, 11/30, and 1/11) focused on connecting alumni and friends to THON’s mission by highlighting our families, the research we support, and its global impact, as well as our relationship with Four Diamonds, our sole beneficiary. 

What makes your committee so cool, fun, and/or important? 

While we pride ourselves on being an entirely student-run philanthropy, I can confidently say that we could not make this big of an impact without the support of our incredible alumni network. Our committee has the opportunity to extend the fight beyond Pennsylvania and grow our mission on a global scale. We work to maintain relationships with those who are essential to ensuring we are able to provide emotional and financial support for our families. We also give our alumni the chance to inspire others by sharing their stories and making an active impact through THON Nation and other alumni support efforts.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2022?

This year, alongside the Alumni Engagement Committee, I hope to be a light in the lives of our Four Diamonds families, student volunteers, alumni, and the entire THON community. THON has the incredible ability to bring people together, and I want to ensure that we are fostering equity and inclusivity so that every member of this community can call THON “home.”

Why do you THON?

THON has become one of the most important elements of my life. Seeing the results of our fundraising first-hand has shown me that this organization truly does change lives. I THON to provide as much support as possible to our families, both emotionally and financially, and to help them continue to make memories. Every moment matters, and ensuring our families can continue making magical memories together is at the core of why I strive to play even a small part in the fight against childhood cancer.

What’s your favorite THON memory? 

If I could only pick one, I would say spending the Final Four hours of THON 2022 with my co-captains. I will never be able to fully describe the feeling of hearing from our incredible families, the energy and excitement of the BJC, or witnessing the culmination of the efforts of thousands of volunteers. Experiencing it alongside a group of people that I grew so close to over the year made it that much more meaningful. Those Final Four hours were the most impactful hours of my life, and I am so thankful to have experienced them with my co-captains and the entire THON community. I cannot wait to create this magical feeling again for THON 2023!

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

I would probably be a Brontosaurus because I watched the movie The Good Dinosaur and thought it was really cute, so I looked up what kind of dinosaur the main character was and it said he was a Brontosaurus.

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About the Author

Dana June Nunemacher

Dana is a senior, who is studying public relations. She is from the 570 and yes, she has watched The Office. Her passions in life include drinking unsweetened iced tea and spreading her love for agriculture (yee haw)!

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