Student and Alumni Profiles
BRIAN FERRACCIO DISCUSSES WORK WITH STATE REP. ELI EVANKOVICH
19th Annual Undergraduate Research at the Capitol-Pennsylvania
An adult learner and senior psychology major at Penn State New Kensington represented the University March 19 at the Pennsylvania legislature’s undergraduate research conference in Harrisburg.
Brian Ferraccio was one of eight Penn State students invited to the state capital for the 19th annual “Undergraduate Research at the Capitol-Pennsylvania.” The event provides an opportunity for students from across the commonwealth to showcase their research to state representatives and senators.
“My research, which focused on how to improve advertising effectiveness, was presented to legislators and other students,” said Ferraccio, a four-year member of the Dean’s List. “I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about other research that is being conducted at other Penn State campuses and colleges. I also enjoyed meeting senators and representatives at the capitol. We were warmly welcomed and recognized by the Senate while the senators were in session.”
Colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are allowed to send one undergraduate student per 10,000 students enrolled to the conference. With the number of undergraduates in Penn State’s statewide campus system, the University was represented by six students from the University Park campus and one from Penn State Altoona. Ferraccio was the only undergraduate selected from Penn State’s 14 University College campuses, which includes the western campuses such as Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny and Shenango.
“The fact that Brian was only one of eight undergraduate students out of approximately 19,000 in the University system speaks volumes about Brian’s scholarship,” said Rick Harnish, associate professor of psychology at the campus. “His dedication to his academic career is laudable; he seizes every opportunity seriously and maximizes every possible moment. I only wish all students had the same zest for learning.”
Participants shared experiences and ideas with fellow invitees and met their local legislators. Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, who represents Allegheny Township, Ferraccio’s hometown, and Upper Burrell Township, where the New Kensington campus is located, visited Ferraccio’s exhibit. The two discussed the benefits of undergraduate research.
“I told him about the importance of higher education and the value the state obtains by ensuring Pennsylvania students continue to have adequate research and educational funding,” said Ferraccio, a recipient of campus’ Hyman Family Foundation Scholarship. “He was very gracious to take time out of his busy schedule to meet with me and discuss the research. He seemed to see the value in its implications for advertising and congratulated me on the research project.”
Advertising is the focus of Ferraccio’s psychology research. Working under the direction of Harnish, Ferraccio’s project, “An Exploration of Prestige Seeking in Mall Haul Videos: The Effect of Self-Monitoring,” was designed to provide advertisers with a study of how mall haul videos fulfill the motivational needs of high and low self-monitors.
“My prior career was in business, and I always enjoyed advertising,” said Ferraccio, a graduate of St. Joseph High School in Natrona Heights. “Dr. Harnish was working on earlier phases of the mall haul topic, and its implications for the future of advertising intrigued me.”
Self-monitoring is a theory that deals with how people view their public appearance. A haul video is a personal recording posted on the internet, such as Facebook or YouTube, that displays items that the person recently purchased, usually at the mall. The purchaser goes into great detail about the items -- price, quality, brand name, etc. Ferraccio explored the impact of self-monitoring on the interest in viewing haul videos from high-status specialty stores, mid-status department stores and low-status discount stores.
Ferraccio chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the New Kensington campus because of the quality of its program and its commitment to undergraduate research. He plans on continuing his education in a graduate program.
“Penn State New Kensington’s psychology department has an excellent reputation, and I knew that earning my degree from there would prepare me well for graduate school,” said Ferraccio, who volunteers at Big Brothers and Big Sisters. “Undergraduates can work with faculty on research projects, something that is rare at the local state-owned colleges.”
Ferraccio graduates in May with a bachelor of science degree. He has been accepted into the Doctorate of Clinical Psychology program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He credits Harnish and Robert Bridges, associate professor of psychology, for his success.
“Dr. Harnish and Dr. Bridges provided me with all of the tools and opportunities I needed to excel and prepare for a professional career in psychology,” said Ferraccio, who is president of the campus chapter of the Psi Chi Honors Society. “I really could not be more pleased to have had the chance to learn with them. My primary pursuit is now my psychology career.”
New Kensington has been the educational springboard for Ferraccio’s family. His wife, Nikki, brother, uncle, and brother-in-law attended the campus. His father-in-law gave the campus a miss and headed straight to University Park. Nikki is a kindergarten teacher in the Kiski Area School District.
Students, faculty and staff, as well as the local community will have an opportunity to see and talk to Ferraccio about his research project at the 19th annual Research and Creative Exposition that runs from 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, in the Athletics Center. The exposition provides New Kensington students, under the guidance of a faculty adviser, the opportunity to choose a topic, conduct research, draw conclusions and present their information in a public setting. A concurrent job fair in the Athletics Center also gives visitors the chance to speak with potential employers from the region.
Psychology is the study of thinking and behavior. New Kensington offers two four-year degrees in psychology: bachelor of arts and bachelor of science. Hands-on involvement in research provides students a basic foundation of knowledge and critical thinking skills that can lead to a range of careers.
The bachelor of arts degree prepares students for careers that require a basic psychology and broader liberal arts background. Because the program is broadly based, the degree is geared to students who may be unsure of their future psychology career paths.
The bachelor of science degree includes options in science or business to suit a student's career goals. The science option helps prepare students for careers in developmental, clinical, social, or health psychology. The business option helps prepare students for careers in industrial and organizational psychology or social psychology. Public and private sector jobs include the fields of personnel services, management, advertising and marketing.
For more on the research expo, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Academics/ugradresearch.htm
For more on the Psychology program, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Academics/Degrees/28550.htm
CURRENT UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT, SHANNA WILLIAMS
Melding academic prowess with a passion for horses, Penn State New Kensington student Shanna Williams desires to start a new business after graduation. Penn State alumnus Mike Kotyk funds a campus scholarship that is helping Williams fulfill her desire.
Williams, a senior in the Applied Psychology program, was the guest speaker Oct. 23 at the campus’ annual Scholarship Reception, an event that brings together recipients and donors. The reception gives students who receive scholarships and benefactors who establish scholarships, a chance to meet face to face. Students attending the reception were able to deliver personal thanks to their donors, who in turn were able to see the personification of their philanthropic endeavors.
Williams is the recipient of the Gregory and Xenia Kotyk Memorial Trustee Family Scholarship. The $50,000 endowment was established in 2011 by Kotyk in honor of his parents.
“I cannot thank Mr. Kotyk enough for his generosity and kindness that has been beneficial to me in so many ways,” said Williams, a product of the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School. “I never imagined being able to afford college. By working hard academically, and with the scholarships, grants and some loans, I have seen the fruits of my labor through the helping hands extended to me by Mr. Kotyk and other scholarship donors.”
Campus scholarships are awarded to eligible students on the basis of academic promise, leadership qualities, community service and financial need. This year, new and returning students at the New Kensington campus earned a total of $293,000 in scholarship money. The campus has 50 scholarship endowments, annual gifts and program awards that funded 183 students this year with an average award of $2,000 per student.
A strong academic ethic is one part of Williams’ genetic makeup. The Apollo resident has been a member of the dean’s list for each of the six semesters she has attended the campus. The dean's list recognizes students earning a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. William carries a 3.95 GPA in the Honors program, an academic initiative that is designed for only the best students in all majors.
Her classroom acumen has resulted in numerous campus scholarships that helped pay tuition during the past four years. In addition to the Kotyk scholarship, Williams was awarded the Hazel L. Hug Scholarship, Penn State Alumni Association Scholarship, Alle-Kiski Society Scholarship, and Bozzone Family Foundation Scholarship.
“Growing up as an only child of a single mother, we have always struggled financially,’ said Williams, a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Psi Chi honor societies. ”Scholarships have aided me in taking a new step to a brighter future for myself, my family and my community.”
The classroom is not the only place that Williams excels. Her extra-curricular activities include tutoring fellow students in a myriad of academic subjects. The tutoring is complemented by her position as work-study student in the Academic and Career Success Center. She assists students with major and career exploration decisions and helps them navigate the center’s resources.
Williams holds leadership positions for two student clubs--president of the Group Investigating God and secretary of the Psychological Association. A component of all campus clubs’ mission statement is community service, and through her association with the clubs, Williams has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Rachel Carson’s Homestead.
“Penn State New Kensington has helped me develop leadership skills that I never imagined I could develop as an undergrad,” said Williams, who will earn her bachelor’s degree in May 2013. “The faculty and staff have supported me every step of the way throughout my education here and I am so thankful to all of them.”
ALUMNI, JOSHUA KARELITZ, RETURNS TO TEACH AT PENN STATE NEW KENSINGTON
Joshua Karelitz, class of Fall 2005, recently completed his Master’s Degree in Research Methodology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a Research Principal with the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Lab at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. His work has been published in multiple journals including Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Psychopharmacology, Biological Psychiatry, and Behavioural Pharmacology. Joshua is also an adjunct faculty member at Penn State New Kensington, having just taught SOC 207 - Research Methods in Sociology Fall semester 2011 at the Regional Learning Center in Cranberry. He will continue to teach at the New Kensington Campus. The psychology department is delighted to have Joshua back at New Kensington.
Pictured on the left is Joshua Karelitz
SPOTLIGHT ON PSYCHOLOGY ALUMNI
Students Travel to Conferences to Present Research
While still PSNK undergraduates, two of our alumni traveled to the Association of Psychological Science in Washington, D.C. last May, 2011, to present their research. Cari Hochbein presented her research titled: “The Sexual Intent Scale: Evidence of Construct Validity”, and Ed Pokusa presented a paper titled: “Cognitive Style and Political Thinking”. Both papers were co-authored with Dr. Harnish and Dr. Bridges.
Pictured on the left is Cari Hochbein.
Pictured on the left is Ed Pokusa.
- Degrees and Majors
- 4-Year Psychology