Student Court

Guide State Forward Award

As of Fall 2018, Homecoming Student Court members will have the opportunity to be selected as a recipient of the Guide State Forward Award. This award is a reminder of our vision as a Homecoming Executive Committee and an organization. When we think of the 2018 Homecoming theme, Guide State Forward, the values and ideals that we hold true, have become a permanent keepsake in the form of an award. These two select individuals, will be able to embrace their legacy not only as a member of Student Court, but as a recipient of such an honor.Guide State Forward looks to the past, it’s memories and it’s traditions; the monumental moments that made our University and organization so unique. These three words also look towards the future. Where we have come from, and where we hope to go; the change and the impact we hope to one day leave. We hope that by receiving the Guide State Forward Award, that members of the Student Court through through the years, will choose to carry on these words that we all hold dear to our hearts.

Jake Griggs

My name is Jake Griggs, and I am a senior studying Management and Political Science and writing my senior thesis in the Schreyer Honors College. My dad was in the military, so I don’t really have a hometown on account of moving constantly, but I did go to high school locally for two years. I currently hold the position of Vice President of the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), the undergraduate student government here at University Park. Additionally, I sit on the Student Fee Board, am a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy, and work as a teaching assistant in the Smeal College of Business. I have spent the past three years here at University Park trying to immerse myself and get the most out of the Penn State experience, serving as a THON Dancer Relations Committee Member and representing Penn State as the Executive Director of the Association of Big Ten Students in addition to my time in student government. After I graduate, I plan to attend law school and one day work on legislative policy. I am extremely grateful and excited to serve on the Student Court, and I look forward to representing Penn State to the best of my abilities.

Katie Solomon

Hello! My name is Katie Solomon and I am a senior studying Criminology and Sociology. Since coming to Penn State, my life has changed for nothing but the better. In this community, I have met my lifelong best friends, learned so much in and outside of the classroom, found my voice as a leader, and been able to make an impact. I feel so fortunate to call this place my home, and soon – too soon – to call myself a proud alumna. For the past year, I have served on THON Executive Committee as the Director of Development. In this role, I work closely primarily with THON’s corporate or foundation partners and individual donors while leading a committee of 16 Donor & Alumni Relations Captains. In addition, I am currently an intern for the Penn State Division of Development and Alumni Relations in the College of the Liberal Arts. As a member of the College myself, the opportunity to support programs that I am a part of is an extremely humbling and eye-opening experience as to the impact that private philanthropy has on this University. I feel so lucky to be able to represent my peers and our community on this year’s student court. The pride, honor, and tradition that Homecoming embodies is an invaluable commitment to Penn State — I am so excited to see its 100th year in action. For The Glory!

Megan Reese

Megan Reese, a life-long Nittany Lion and originally from right here in Happy Valley, is studying Economics with a focus in Human Resources and Public Economies. Megan describes herself as a dedicated and active community member, and a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and women’s rights. She is involved with various small groups around campus, the College of Liberal Arts as a teaching assistant, and she has found a home and family with her fellow THON volunteers. Megan was previously a THON Donor and Alumni Relations Captain and is currently a Dancer Relations Captain for THON 2020. Last year, she had the incredible honor of standing FTK and dancing independently in THON 2019. While being involved with various organizations around campus and throughout State College, Megan has found a passion for giving back to the community that has taught her so much about integrity, grit, empowerment, passion, and dedication. “A Century of Stories” to her means the profound pride that Penn State has carried for generations, and will continue to carry for years to come.

Freddy Purnell

Freddy Purnell was born and raised in West Philadelphia, he is a Bunton-Waller Fellow studying Biology, minoring in Entrepreneurship and Innovation: New Media and the Diversity Studies Certificate. After graduation he plans on fusing his passions for science and public advocacy to research equitable solutions to social issues like environmental racism and ecological remediation; and advocate for groups marginalized by race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. His desire to use his voice to improve the experiences of underrepresented students led to his involvement in organizations designed to help his communities. He is the president of the LGBTQA Student Roundtable,Vice President of Queer and Trans People of Color, and part of Black Caucus and the Carribean Student Association. He also serves as the Outreach Chair of College Democrats. Furthermore, the issue of sexual assault on Penn State’s campus is very personal and important to him. So he became a peer educator,member of Men Against Violence, and Greeks CARE facilitator to help educate students on enthusiastic consent, bystander intervention and supporting survivors. When not working or studying Freddy enjoys chilling in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, discussing superheros with the Students of SHIELD, attending Penn State wrestling matches, conducting research on bumblebees, and dancing! To Freddy “A Century of Stories” represents all the people who paved the way for him to have the many opportunities Penn State has provided for him. It serves to celebrate how far the Penn State community has come, and inspire us to keep moving forward.

Mackenzie Anderson

Mackenzie Anderson is a senior at Penn State majoring in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIENT). She is from Foxboro, MA, where she lives with her brother, her dad, and his fiancé. Following graduation, she will work as a Human Capital Consultant for Deloitte in Boston. Mackenzie is involved on campus through Women in Business, Smeal Ethics Case Competition Team, Lion Ambassadors, and CIENT Ambassadors. She previously served as the President of Women in Business and now serves on the Strategic Planning Committee in Lion Ambassadors, as well as a Co-Founder of CIENT Ambassadors. Additionally, she works as a Teaching Assistant in Smeal for MGMT 425 and 427W. With a deep-rooted love for community service, Mackenzie has earned her Gold Award (equivalent to an Eagle Scout) and is an avid ALS advocate, having raised over $80,000 for two influential non-profits. She was recently selected as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Scholar and attended Harvard Business School’s pre-MBA program. Also, Mackenzie is a comedy show enthusiast, movie aficionado, and devoted football fan. Mackenzie fell in love with PSU after touring during THON weekend. She was in awe at how the university came together to support such an incredible cause. The passionate community of Penn Staters all around the world drew her in to spend her next four years here. “A Century of Stories” inspires Mackenzie to think about how different each of our journeys to PSU is, but also how much this university has impacted our lives for years to come.

Zack Durnack

Zack Durnack is a senior from Bethlehem, PA, studying Telecommunications while also minoring in Digital Media Trends and Analytics. Currently, Zack is a part of many organizations on campus including THON, Lion Ambassadors, the Class Gift Campaign, and the Penn State Thespian Society. He holds the position of Talent Coordinator on the THON Entertainment Committee, as well as the Director of Fundraising for the Class Gift Campaign. He has also served as the Marketing Coordinator for the Penn State Thespian Society for the past three semesters. Zack is passionate about the history of Penn State and the stories within each brick of this university, and likes to learn something new about it every day. One of his favorite places is the Arboretum, not only because of how unique and beautiful it is during all seasons, but also because it is a result of philanthropy at Penn State. Originally, Zack did not want to attend Penn State because his sister also attended Penn State. But after taking an official tour, he knew there was more to Penn State than the classroom. What makes Penn State special is that true communal feel of looking out for each other and the courtesy given to one another. To him, “A Century of Stories” represents not only the past century of Penn State and how much it has grown, but also the next century of Penn State’s future and where it will go from today.

Connor Pardoe

Connor Pardoe is a senior from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. A natural storyteller and communicator, Connor is studying Advertising/Public Relations and Communication Arts and Sciences. As the Administrative Vice President of Lion Ambassadors, Connor strives to communicate the importance of a lifelong commitment to one’s Alma Mater. Additionally, Connor has been a lifelong arts advocate and now serves as the President of the Performing Arts Council. Connor is also an intern for the Bellisario College of Communications, where he connects alumni to current students and faculty members. One of Connor’s favorite places on campus is the Old Main Bell Tower as it emulates the development that Penn State has had over the past 164 years. Old Main all is an icon to all of the unique, diverse, and prideful Penn State students that walk campus day in and day out. Connor would have never predicted that he would be a Nittany Lion. However, upon his campus tour and learning more about the pride, passion and opportunities that all students have, Connor has found his home in Happy Valley and actively seeks to make Penn State better than how he found it. Connor believes that the theme, “A Century of Stories,” represents the eclectic experiences that all Penn Staters have. The University’s proud past and hopeful future is founded in the individual narratives that all Penn State students bring to their experience. These narratives will serve as the stepping stones to a greater Penn State for the next century to come.

Marlisa Shaw

Hello Penn State family! My name is Marlisa Shaw and I am a biology and psychology major focusing on neuroscience. You may have seen me on campus doing a variety of things. I am a Millennium Scholar, so you may have seen me presenting research at one of your department’s symposiums. I am a Co-Captain for the Dark Storm Step Team; you may have seen me at THON 2019. If you haven’t seen me in any of those places, take some time to think back to your very first day moving in on campus; I am a member of the Parent’s Program and may have been the person that gave your parents tissues as they said “goodbye” or snapped the picture of you and your family as you shined with excitement to start your Penn State Journey. But what if we have never met in any of those situations? … No big deal … It’s so nice to finally meet you!!! I hope that from this short bio you feel like you know me a little bit for WE ARE Penn State Family! If you ever see me out and about feel free to say “Heyyyyy”!

Graciela Bolanos 

Graciela is a Salvadoran senior majoring in Community, Environment, and Development. She’s passionate about the intersectionality of health, justice, and the environment, and wants to go to nursing school when she graduates in May. At Penn State, Graciela is a Resident Assistant in Pollock halls, an advocate counselor for Centre Safe, a student officer for Third Way Collective, the vice president of NRHH, and the social chair for the Social Dance Club. She loves making friends, so make sure to say hello if you see her around!

Colsen Ackroyd

Colsen Ackroyd is a senior here at Penn State studying Supply Chain Management. Originally from Mechanicsburg, PA, he graduated with a class of 15 and started his Penn State story 3 weeks later during the Summer of 2016. Colsen’s Penn State pride is generational; his parent’s met here and his grandfather not only attended the school but later became a professor as well. Colsen began his time here at Penn State by getting immediately involved with UPUA where he was a member of the Freshman Council. The following semester he joined the Daily Collegian where he has risen through the ranks of the Sales Department and Business Division where he is now the acting Business Major for the past two years. There he manages and leads a staff of 60 students. Colsen attributes his success personally and professionally to all his experiences from being a Penn Stater. These experiences have helped him land internships with Invent Penn State and with Walmart in their Supply Chain eCommerce division. He will be going back to work for Walmart this summer after graduation in hopes pursuing a career in Supply Chain Management.

For more information, refer to our Student Court Handbook below.

Student Court Handbook

About Student Court

As one of 10 individuals on Student Court, you have the chance to embrace an opportunity that is steeped in rich history. You will be following in the steps of those individuals before you, who have been recognized for their passion to this University as a leader, scholar and community member. Your time as a Student Court Member will be filled with memories that go beyond just the four years it takes to get a degree. Your cohort of students will have the opportunity to lead a community-wide service project, have personal interactions with the Grand Marshal and ride in the largest student-run parade in the nation. If the possibility of leaving your Nittany Lion mark on this great University interests you, we want you as a member of the Penn State Homecoming Student Court.

Student Court Timeline

Members of the Penn State student body are able to nominate a rising Senior during various spring and fall court nomination events. Homecoming Captains, whose duties include working with the Student Court, then take the time to go through nominations and send out applications to eligible individuals. The individual nominated chooses to fill out the application. Because of the amount of applications we receive each year, Homecoming will look through the applications and choose the top 20 candidates who will be sent to interview in front of a Faculty and Staff Panel. The Faculty and Staff Panel, made up of various Penn State faculty and staff members on a volunteer basis, take the time to interview applicants and cut the candidate pool from 20 to the final number of 10 Student Court members.

Spring Nominations

April 8th – April 19th
Spring Nominations will open 8 a.m. All Nominations will need to be submitted online. Nomination tables will be set up in the HUB on April 17th (Legacy Celebration). Nominations will close at 5 p.m. and no late submissions will be accepted.

Fall Nominations

August 26th – September 6th

This will be the final nomination period. Fall Nominations will open 8 a.m. All nominations will need to be submitted online. Students who were nominated in the Spring do not need to be re-nominated. Nominations will close at 5pm and no late submissions will be accepted.


September 8th – September 13th
Student Court applications will go out to all those nominated via email. Applications will be due electronically by 5pm. No late applications will be accepted.

Faculty and Staff Panel Interviews

September 16th
The selected 20 Student Court candidate’s will be interviewed by the Faculty panel. Interviews will be held in the University House in Hintz Alumni Center.

Court Workshop

September 23th
Location is TBA. All Homecoming Courts (Grad, University and Student) will receive their schedule of events and important information for Homecoming Week.

Student Court Service Event

Date TBD
All Student Court members will plan and implement a Campus-wide community service event.

Homecoming Week

September 28th – October 5th
All members of the Student Court are required to be present and active at all Homecoming Week Events.

Homecoming Football Game

October 5th
Members of the Student Court will be presented at the Homecoming Football Game. The top two Royalty members will be crowned and given special recognition during this time.