Twins to graduate from Penn State Fayette early after attending PaSSS


LEMONT FURNACE, Pa .– Twin sisters Sarah and Emily Franks will graduate a semester early at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, in December, after participating in the accelerated learning opportunities offered by the Pathways to Success Summer Start program ( PaSSS).

Pathways to Success Summer Initiation Program (PaSSS)

The PaSSS program, now in its eighth year of operation in the Penn State system, invites eligible freshmen to complete six credits in the summer before their first semester. Participants receive a scholarship of up to $ 1,500, a book allowance of $ 400, guaranteed employment on campus, and peer mentoring throughout the academic year.

Students who successfully complete the first year can register for 12 additional credits over the following summer with a scholarship of up to $ 3,000. Returning PaSSS students serve as student mentors to the incoming class.

Sarah and Emily graduated from Connellsville Area High School in 2018. Although their grandparents studied at Penn State Fayette, they are considered first generation students, making up 50% of Penn State Fayette’s student body for who transitioning from high school to an academia can be difficult. PaSSS, an initiative of Penn State President Eric Barron, is designed to equip students with a support system, knowledge of resources, and a head start for graduation.

Sarah frank

Sarah will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She hopes to work as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist before starting graduate school to become a child psychologist. In addition to peer mentoring in the PaSSS program, she participates in THON, gives private lessons to other students and holds a work-study position at the Student Success Center.

“By joining the PaSSS program, I was able to learn time management and study tips. It allowed me to see how college courses differ from high school courses. It gave me an edge over my peers because I knew what to expect at the start of my fall semester and was better prepared for my time in the program, ”said Sarah. “PaSSS also helped me build relationships with faculty and campus staff, which helped me enter my freshman year on campus. “

Sarah has completed several undergraduate research projects under the mentorship of Professors Fayette. His recent work on corporate social responsibility at Disney, with Rachel Kaplan, assistant professor of corporate communications, will be submitted to the Butler Journal of Undergraduate Research. Sarah will present her research, “How Behavioral Science Majors View Mental Health Compared to Non-Behavioral Science Majors,” conducted under the supervision of Aris Karagiorgakis, Assistant Professor of Psychology, in the fall of 2021 Learning Fair.

“What makes Sarah a great student and researcher are her intangible assets: she’s humble, she loves to learn, she knows what she doesn’t know and she is one of the most teachable students I have. had in recent years, ”says Karagiorgakis. “She values ​​feedback and thrives on mentoring. I have watched her evolve and develop over the semesters to become someone who will be successful no matter what she chooses to do in the next stage of her future.

Emilie Francs

Emily will earn a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). She plans to pursue higher education and become a specialist in children’s lives after working in the field for a year.

“I have always had a passion for working with children and this career will allow me to do so,” said Emily. “I can’t imagine myself in another degree program here at Penn State Fayette. HDFS has allowed me to grow personally and academically.

Like her sister, Emily participates in THON, tutoring and work-study programs at the Student Success Center. She is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Information Literacy Excellence Award from Penn State University Libraries. In 2021, she received the Human Development Student of the Year award and the Dennis Hippo Memorial Award.

“I can graduate a semester earlier because I participated in the PaSSS program. I cannot recommend this program highly enough to incoming students. It really shaped my success on campus and defined what it means to me to be a student at Penn State Fayette, ”said Emily.

Emily’s undergraduate research, “How Does Preparing to Shoot in School Affect Students’ Anxiety and Feelings of Safety in School?” “, Performed with fellow student Joelle Rosky and Maureen Ittig, Assistant Professor at HDFS, won second place at the Spring 2020 Learning Fair. Her research with Elaine Barry, Associate Professor at HDFS, titled” How Social Media are they a mediator in the sleep pattern of adolescents? Was presented for the Student Excellence Award.

“Emily exudes calm and consistent leadership among her peers,” Ittig said. “She is compassionate and persistent in a way that inspires and uplifts those around her, including me.”

Brandy Burke, Administrative Support Assistant, served as a supervisor and mentor to the twins, along with Mary Budinsky, Learning Strategies Coordinator.

“Sarah and Emily are amazing women. I will miss them dearly, but I’m so excited to see them move on to the next chapter in their lives, ”said Burke. “I’ve seen them both grow up so much. They now have more self-confidence. They are selfless, caring and intelligent, and they are always willing to go out of their way to help others while maintaining a high GPA throughout their college career. They have been pure assets for the campus. The world is a better place because Sarah and Emily are part of it.

For more information about the PaSSS program at Penn State Fayette, visit


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