UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- During her first semester as a Penn State student, Leah Laughlin heard about a program that she said stayed on her "subconscious radar" throughout her time in college. The program, the Earth and Mineral Sciences Academy for Global Experience (EMSAGE), honors a select number of students in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (EMS) for their scholarship, service and global experiences.
When the applications opened for the EMSAGE program as Laughlin approached graduation, she said, "I figured it was worth a shot."
Laughlin applied and was among the 16 students honored through the EMSAGE program for 2017. The students were named EMSAGE Laureates during a ceremony held on May 5.
"I know the college of EMS is full of intelligent, experienced and well-rounded students, so I certainly feel honored to be named a laureate," said Laughlin, who is an energy business and finance major.
Formed by EMS in 2009, EMSAGE promotes a spirit of integrity, service and leadership.
"EMSAGE was designed to honor and reward students who perform well in the classroom and also reach beyond the classroom to take on service as well as internships, research with faculty or global experiences," said Yvette Richardson, associate dean for undergraduate education, EMS. "EMSAGE Laureates have a well-rounded portfolio that makes them 'a cut above.' We feel it is important to recognize these students in a meaningful way and encourage future students to reach for laureate status."
Study abroad is one way students strengthen their global literacy skills and broaden their perspectives. Laughlin participated in a study abroad program through the EMS Center for Advanced Undergraduate Studies and Experience (CAUSE), which took her to Iceland, Sweden, Germany and Denmark to learn about renewable energy systems.
Other laureates, like Meghan Reynolds, an environmental systems engineering major, said that traveling to Iceland through the GREEN program, with financial support from EMS, was a defining experience in her career.
"Through the program I took renewable energy classes at Reykjavik University, visited geothermal and hydropower plants, and worked in a group to create a capstone project on expanding the use of geothermal energy to a low-income community in Uganda," she said.
These are exactly the types of experiences EMSAGE was designed to reward and honor through its laureateship program.
"Throughout my college career, I have made it a priority to be fully involved in not just my academics, but also my extracurricular activities and learning experiences outside of Penn State," Reynolds said. "I feel thankful and honored that all of my hard work the past four years is being recognized through being named an EMSAGE Laureate."
Scholarship and research are major components of the EMSAGE program as well. EMSAGE Laureate and dual geography and history major John Swab conducted numerous research projects both at Penn State and at other universities, such as Stanford University, during his time as an undergraduate. One of those projects focused on the growth and development of the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, from 1850 to 1920. He had the opportunity to present on this and other research at multiple conferences as a student.
"I'm honored and excited to have been chosen as an EMSAGE Laureate. It's always nice to be recognized for your hard work," he said.
What it means to be an EMSAGE Laureate
For some students, being named an EMSAGE Laureate is a sign of distinction recognizing service. Environmental systems engineering major Jenna Bishop was highly involved in the college throughout her four years as a student. She served as president of the EMS Student Council, was active in both the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon and Relay for Life for the college and served as a mentor for the college's transition program for first-year students, Total Orientation to Earth and Mineral Sciences (TOTEMS).
"I am deeply passionate about this college and I am grateful to be recognized for my accomplishments," she said. "This college has given me so much and it continues to keep giving by naming me an EMSAGE Laureate."
For Jacob Cordell, EMSAGE Laureate status is a reminder, he said, "that I have a responsibility to serve others and connect to a larger world."
Cordell, a materials science and engineering major, while a student leveraged connections in EMS to land student research positions at the University of Freiberg, Germany, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
"EMS connected me to a world of researchers through whom I have been able to study in Germany with experts in my desired field of solar energy systems," he said.
Environmental systems engineering student Zane Geist was highly engaged in student organizations and served as president of the Penn State student chapter of the Society of Environmental Systems Engineers. Through these organizations, Geist said he built professional connections and relationships with his peers, some of whom were named EMSAGE Laureates in years past.
"I am proud to be added to the list of past EMSAGE Laureates whose footsteps I followed to help become the student and leader that I am today," he said. "The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences has given me every opportunity to succeed, so becoming an EMSAGE Laureate displays the value of taking advantage of those opportunities that are provided through EMS and making the most of them."
For others, like Annirudh Sameth, EMSAGE Laureate status is a way to inspire pride in supporters — family, friends and mentors. Sameth devoted some of his time to launching a service arm of the international Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), known as SPE Cares, in addition to conducting research and being highly engaged in the Penn State student chapter of SPE.
"I'm not standing here as who I am today without any of them, and this recognition has each of their names written on it as well; they are a large reason as to why I've been able to be successful," said Sameth, who majored in petroleum and natural gas engineering. "Being named an EMSAGE Laureate feels like a culmination of all those efforts and I'm deeply grateful for everyone I have crossed paths with who have inspired and supported me."
The complete list of students who were named EMSAGE Laureates in 2017 is:
- Jenna Bishop, environmental systems engineering
- Jacob Cordell, materials science and engineering
- Cecilia Cullen, geosciences
- Zane Geist, environmental systems engineering
- Gregory Huth, petroleum and natural gas engineering
- Umar Ijaz, energy engineering, and energy business and finance
- Austin Jordan, meteorology
- Leah Laughlin, energy business and finance
- Scott Matuszewski, meteorology
- Elizabeth Meyer, geosciences
- Robert William Prestley, meteorology
- Meghan Reynolds, environmental systems engineering
- Aniruddh Sameth, petroleum and natural gas engineering
- Lydia Scheel, energy business and finance
- John Swab, geography
- PJ Tatano, petroleum and natural gas engineering, and energy business and finance