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adult learner award recipients at a reception

Microbiology major recognized with 2022 Outstanding Adult Student Award

14 April 2022
adult learner award recipients at a reception
The 2022 Outstanding Adult Student Award recipients were honored during a luncheon on April 7.  Credit: Kelsey Block

Undergraduate Katrina Bynum, who is majoring in biobehavioral health and microbiology, is one of two students selected to receive the 2022 Outstanding Adult Student Award from the Adult Learner Programs and Services, a unit of Penn State Student Affairs. The Outstanding Adult Student Award recognizes an exceptional adult learner or student veteran at University Park who has overcome obstacles while furthering his or her education. Nominees balance multiple roles, serve as role models for other students and achieve academically. Also winning the award this year is Jodi Thompson, who is majoring in elementary and early childhood education.

“It gives me great pleasure to be the founder of the Adult Learner Opportunity Fund and to recognize and award such outstanding students each year,” said Leslie Laing, director for Adult Learner Programs and Services. “At Penn State's University Park campus we have nearly 2,000 adults, veterans and student parents seeking their first degrees. Both Katrina and Jodi have magnificent stories that inspire us all to succeed. Juggling their multiple roles, responsibilities, excelling academically and finding ways to volunteer and serve our community is admirable and even more noteworthy during the confines of the pandemic.”

Bynum began her studies in 2012. In 2018, she reapplied to Penn State Abington campus to complete her degree. In 2019, she transferred to University Park. During her time at Penn State, Bynum has served as a Lion Ambassador, a peer educator with Health Promotion and Wellness, president of Adult Learners at Penn State student organization, and vice president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. She plays on the Quidditch team and serves as a learning and research assistant for the department of biochemistry and molecular biology.

"This award is a huge help, and I can't thank the Commission on Adult Leaners or Leslie's office enough for the tremendous support they've provided me during my time here at Penn State,” said Bynum. “I would not have been able to continue my program without their help."

During the pandemic, Bynum took classes to prepare herself and now volunteers as an EMT with Centre Life Link Emergency Medical Services serving Centre County. According to her nominations, Bynum “demonstrates remarkable leadership qualities, commitment and dedication to the Penn State community. Her critical roles as a health educator, tutor and EMS worker impact us all for the better. She has an extraordinary work ethic as she hurdles everyday challenges and advocates for others. Katrina exemplifies what it means to live your learning.”

“Whether it takes you five years or a decade to complete your educational goals, the journey is challenging. Having a mentor, advocate and network makes all the difference. Adult Learner Programs and Services is proud to support and champion the needs of nontraditional students. Together, we achieve more,” said Laing.

All the award nominees were honored during a luncheon on April 7. Grants for the award recipient are provided through the Adult Learner Opportunity Fund. To support the next generation of adult and veteran students, consider making a donation to the fund by calling 1-888-800-9163 or making a gift online.