THON Director Thursday: Meet THON 2023 Operations Director Shayne McKernan

Name: Shayne McKernan

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Minor: Engineering Leadership Development

Past THON experience:

THON 2020: OPPerations Committee Member

THON 2021: OPPerations Committee Member (Lieutenant)

THON 2022: OPPerations Captain (Set Up/Tear Down)

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

An interesting fact about me is I learned how to fly a plane during my summer internship after my sophomore year!

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

I immediately knew I found a home at Penn State when I joined a THON committee in my first year. It was the first time I felt comfortable and a part of something at such a big school. Seeing the time and dedication that my previous captains put in was incredibly motivating and made me want to give my all to this organization in a similar way. I did not truly know the scope of all that THON does until I walked into the BJC and saw dancers stand for the first time. Seeing the community behind this organization and these families in their fight was so inspiring. In that moment, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to influence these families’ and volunteers’ lives because of how they have influenced mine. I applied for director so that I could ensure every family and volunteer found a home here and so that I could continue to witness and contribute to all the beautiful moments that THON creates.

What are your responsibilities as a THON Director?

As the OPPerations director for THON 2023, I oversee 21 captains and around 550 committee members that make up the Big Blue Family. We as a group are responsible for the setup, logistical planning, maintenance, and tear down of the 5K, Family Carnival, and THON Weekend. We work to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment for all Four Diamonds Families and THON Volunteers to transform the BJC into THON’s home.

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

Something I am looking to implement in my position this year is improving our sustainability initiatives by using external resources and viewing sustainability as a long-term plan that will evolve and improve each year.

What makes your committee so fun and/or important?

The OPPerations Committee is amazing because we have the privilege of transforming the Bryce Jordan Center into the home of THON and then tearing it down at the end of the weekend. Seeing how this event comes together and the true number of volunteers it takes is such a unique and rewarding opportunity. Committee members are able to experience a complete cycle of THON Weekend and know that they were a part of creating a safe environment for families and volunteers. I also love OPP because it truly is one big family. Each captain has a committee and we offer various opportunities for volunteers to get to know each other and truly find their home here at Penn State.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2023?

I hope to make our THON Weekend processes more efficient and use the data we have in regard to sustainability to drive our future initiatives in a way that will be productive for years to come. I also want to continue to ensure that every committee member finds a home here and can have the best experience possible.

Why do you THON?

I THON so that every child has the opportunity to achieve their dreams and make this world a better place!

What’s your favorite THON memory?

My favorite THON memory from last year was during the Final Four. My co-captains and I stood arm-in-arm on the floor looking around at this incredible community of people. What made this moment so special was the OPPerations section of the BJC holding up their signs and having the best time of their lives. They were all standing directly in our line of sight and it was so cool to see the family that had been created during the past five months and watching the future of THON enjoy every moment of the weekend.

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

If I could be any dinosaur, I would be a Pterosaur. There are many types of Pterosaurs, so I would be happy with any of them because I would have the ability to fly!

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About the Author

Haylee Yocum

Haylee is a 2024 graduate of Penn State with a degree in immunology and infectious disease. She relocated to Williamsport but will not be taking any questions about what’s next in her career. Haylee continues to be fueled by dangerous amounts of caffeine and dreams of smashing the patriarchy. Any questions or discussion about Taylor Swift’s best songs can be directed to @hayleeq8 on Twitter if you must.

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