Senior receives Student Achievement Award from PA Office of Rural Health

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nicholas Corona, a senior in the integrated undergraduate/Master of Health Administration program in the Penn State Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA), received the 2020 Jennifer S. Cwynar Community Achievement Award in April 2020. Corona, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is also pursuing a minor in Rehabilitation and Human Services and Labor and Employment Relations.

The award, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH), recognizes community achievement by a senior majoring in Health Policy and Administration who has demonstrated service and commitment to a community or an underserved population, preferably, but not exclusively, in a rural are of Pennsylvania.

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Corona served as the vice-president of the American College of Healthcare Administrators (ACHCA) Club and was president and founder of the Lift the Mask Club.

Through ACHCA, Corona collaborated with the Quell Foundation to help reduce the stigma of mental health illnesses and coordinated events to promote positive mental health awareness, such as yoga and dog-petting activities. He served on the executive team for Ohana, a special interest Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) organization and was the donor and alumni relations chair. Corona’s position was responsible for $83,000 of the $131,000 in donations that were raised to support pediatric cancer research.

He was nominated by Diane Spokus, associate director of professional development in HPA. In her nomination, Spokus lauded Corona for his commitment to community service, advocacy for under-served and rural populations, and his focus on public health and noted that Corona is a results-driven student who continually seeks professional development opportunities and service to others. She also highlighted his passion, enthusiasm, and strong work ethic.

During the summer of 2019, Corona served as a graduate administrative intern at the University of Chicago Medicine. While there, he developed an exam room refresh cleaning process for the emergency departments, led a Workplace Violence Prevention Committee, streamlined a flowchart process, and created an adult emergency department informational brochure to assist patients in understanding the process of care they would receive. Post-graduation, Corona will serve as an administrative fellow for Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network.

“We are very pleased to present this award to Nick Corona and to honor the legacy of Jennifer Cwynar, who was an exceptional student and intern with our office,” said Lisa Davis, director of PORH and outreach associate professor of HPA. “This is one way in which we can encourage excellence in those who will become leaders in advocating for the health of vulnerable populations. 

The Jennifer S. Cwynar Community Achievement Award was established in memory of Jennifer S. Cwynar, a 2008 graduate of HPA and a 2008 undergraduate intern at PORH. The award is given in recognition of Cwynar’s commitment to community service, advocacy for underserved and rural populations, and focus on public health. The award is issued to a senior majoring in Health Policy and Administration who has advanced those commitments and is intended to encourage and foster personal and professional development.

PORH formed in 1991 as a joint partnership between the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Penn State. The office is one of 50 state offices of rural health in the nation funded under a program administered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is charged with being a source of coordination, technical assistance and networking; partnership development; and assisting in the recruitment and retention of health care providers. 

PORH provides expertise in the areas of rural health, agricultural health and safety, community and economic development, oral health, oral health and other issues impacting the health status of rural residents. PORH is administratively housed in HPA in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State University Park.

To learn more about the Jennifer S. Cwynar Community Achievement Award and the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, visit

Last Updated April 10, 2020