Penn State EMT Renko receives University Ambulance Service Alumni Award

Schreyer Scholar and Panhellenic president reflects on her journey

Senior Abby Renko poses between two ambulances. She can often be found driving one of them on campus. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State student Abby Renko doesn’t back down from a challenge. She’s a Schreyer Honors College Scholar, Panhellenic president and an emergency medical technician (EMT). So when it came time to give out the University Ambulance Service Alumni Award, she was an obvious choice.

Renko received the award on April 17 as part of the annual dinner to celebrate the hard work and dedication of all Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff and volunteers.

“Abby is an enthusiastic worker, volunteers for additional assignments, and cheerfully accomplishes her tasks ahead of schedule,” said Dave Jones, EMS manager. “She is trusted to perform independently at a high level with minor supervision.”

“It’s great because I think EMS has shaped who I am as a person; it’s intensified my desire to go to med school,” said Renko. It’s nice, to be recognized because you know who you’re working for and you can see what you are doing is making a difference.”

Renko’s experience as an EMT influenced her senior thesis. As a psychology major, she is conducting studies on traumatic brain injuries (TBI) with Dr. Frank Hillary. Renko hopes to determine if gender plays a role in incidences of TBI and rate of recovery.

Renko, and other members of The Penn State University Ambulance Service (UAS), are required to complete Kinesiology 403, a four-credit, semester-long training program for students who have not previously worked in EMS.. She had such an overwhelmingly positive experience in the  class,  that Renko decided to try her hand at teaching. 

I like teaching the volunteers and seeing how they improve. People come in at the beginning of the semester with no knowledge and by the end they can save someone’s life or help someone do something they couldn’t do on their own.”

When she’s not teaching, working on the ambulance or looking at the human brain, Renko serves as the Penn State Panhellenic President.

“As president, I sit on different committees and round tables like the  State College Borough Advisory Committee, the Student Leader Roundtable with Damon Simms, and the Mental Health and Wellness Roundtable. I dabble where I can, but it’s cool because I get to interact with a bunch of other student leaders and work on initiatives together.”

You might be asking yourself how she manages to do so much, so well. In addition to strong time management skills, Renko follows some good advice that was passed down to her.

“I remember someone said to me that it’s about quality, not quantity. Find a few things that you are really passionate about. You don’t feel busy because you’re genuinely doing things you want to be doing. That just kind of resonated with me.”

Founded in 1956, the Penn State University Ambulance Service is comprised of both students and administrators who are dedicated to making a positive contribution to the Penn State campus and its surrounding areas through round-the-clock emergency care, community outreach, and continuing education opportunities. Acting under the guidance and support of University Health Services, UAS is the oldest and largest collegiate ambulance service in the country.


Last Updated April 19, 2017