Patrick O’Brien Named Fall 2009 Penn State College of Education Student Marshal
by Melissa Gummo (November 2009)
The Penn State College of Education has announced Patrick O’Brien as the fall 2009 student marshal. O’Brien will carry the College banner at commencement on Saturday, December 19, at 12:30 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center. He will be the first College of Education student to receive his diploma on stage. Dr. Patrick Shannon, professor of education in language and literacy education, will escort him as the College’s Faculty Marshal.
O’Brien has attained the highest cumulative grade-point average of 4.00 and will be graduating with a bachelor of science degree in Elementary and Kindergarten Education. He recently completed his student teaching practicum in a fifth grade classroom at Whitehall Elementary School in the Baldwin – Whitehall School District.
“Student teaching at Whitehall Elementary has shown me that teaching has thousands of dimensions and there are many moving parts a teacher has to juggle,” said O’Brien. “Regardless, I want to be a teacher more than ever now after being in the classroom. No matter how many hours of work I put in, I feel it is incredibly rewarding.”
While he was student teaching, OBrien wrote a short Halloween story for his students this year and recruited a friend from the College of Education to illustrate it. They are working together to bind it so the children can have a fully illustrated copy of the story. O’Brien said, “I’d like to make this a tradition in my classroom for years to come.”
O’Brien has received numerous honors and awards for his academic achievements, including Dean’s List for all semesters, the Evan Pugh Scholar Award, an Eagle Scout award, and a Greek Catholic Union Scholarship. He served as the National Honor Society President at Bethel Park High School.
While attending the Penn State Greater Allegheny campus, O’Brien was involved in the Penn State Education Partnership Program (PEPP), which he said “contributed to his choice to switch from secondary social studies education to elementary education.”
PEPP is a program where Penn State students work in after-school programs in urban school districts to help K-12 students with homework and college preparation. PEPP provides participating students with personal and educational support to graduate from high school and encourages individual self-confidence and social skill development.
O’Brien has worked and volunteered at other organizations as well. He worked as a YMCA camp counselor at Camp A.I.M. (Achievement Independence Motivation) where he helped children with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. He has volunteered at the Light of Life, which is a multi-faceted organization that offers a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, and rehab programs to help those in need. He has also been involved with his church’s Boy Scouts.
A native of Bethel Park, O’Brien plans to return to that area after graduation to pursue a job in elementary education. He remains optimistic on finding a position; however, if there are no openings, he hopes substitute teaching will open doors for the next school year.