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Fabulous Under Forty

Women’s History Month ended with a bang. Six fabulous women alumni who are under the age of 40 came to the campus to talk about their struggles and successes. These ladies served as inspiration and proof that hard work does pay off and offered advice on how to get ahead and make a name for yourself.

Jacklin Rhoads, a former Student Government Association (SGA), president and now a Senior Account Executive in public relations at Cashman & Associates, talked about the importance of knowing the right people. She spent two years after graduating from Penn State Abington as a waitress before building a connection with one of the regulars. What she learned from having leadership positions on campus, she couldn’t put a price on.

Brianda Freistat, a Policy Analyst for the Majority Policy Committee, explained that involvement on campus or internships are extremely important because “you never know where something is going to take you, so take the opportunity.” Brianda started out as an english major but changed because her experience with service being the president of the Community Outreach Workers. She also said that Penn State Abington helped her to understand many different styles of communication because it is such a diverse campus.

Ashley Martin, another former SGA president, told the attendees that she feels like there are so many positives to highlight about the campus. She really enjoyed her time as SGA president, orientation leader, and THON member.

Angelisa Cataldo also had a great experience in her 4 years at Abington. She was the Lion Ambassador president, won the ACURA Fall Colloquium, and was the co-valedictorian. She now has a job at an accounting firm and completed the Certified Public Accountant Exam a year after graduation. She felt that being so involved really helped her to learn how to balance more things, manage her time and deal with stress.

ShaVon Savage added that a company will look for your skill sets when hiring and not necessarily what your degree is. Her background includes experience as an educator, child advocate, and education attorney. She graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in business.

Olivia Hamilton Jones was an adult student who came here with almost no resume and left with an extensive one. She said there is so much opportunity here to find something that will distinguish you. In her time at Penn State she was the leader of A Place to Talk, and also established programs such as The Third Wave, The Vagina Monologues, and The Clothesline Project with Abington’s Women and Gender studies community. She has worked in health behavior and medical decision-making research as well as advocacy for birthing and parenting women.

A member from the audience asked the question about having mentors on campus and each of these 6 women had a mentor that they feel helped them to succeed. All of them agreed that mentorship is extremely important because they challenge you when you think you can’t do something. Their mentors at Abington ranged from advisors to professors and included Gina Kaufman, Tracy Reed, Erica Pulaski, Dr. Karen Weekes, Dr. Steve McMillan, Dr. Carla Chamberlin-Quinlisk and Dr. Ross Brinkert.

Penn State Abington offers a program where alumni can mentor students. If you are interested in being a mentor for a student who may be thinking about pursuing a career in your field, contact Antonella Triforo-DePrince at

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