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College of Education Names Fall 2014 Student Marshal

Kyle O'Donnell was named the fall 2014 student marshal for the College of Education.
College of Education Names Fall 2014 Student Marshal

Kyle O'Donnell

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Education named Kyle Martin O’Donnell as its fall 2014 student marshal. He will lead the College’s procession of graduates during the Penn State Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony at the Bryce Jordan Center on December 20. O’Donnell selected Fran Arbaugh, associate professor of education, to escort him as faculty marshal. Kyle’s parents, Kevin and Kathy O’Donnell plan to attend the ceremony.

Kyle O'Donnell
Kyle O'Donnell
O’Donnell is a Secondary Education (SECED) major focusing on mathematics with a minor in Special Education (SPLED). While he always wanted to pursue a career teaching, O’Donnell said his interest in math started in high school.

“AP (advanced placement) calculus opened my eyes to the beauty underlying higher-level mathematics,” he said. “I also like mathematics as a field because it is concrete and doesn’t change. All of the facts are there in the numbers.”

O’Donnell’s SPLED minor came after working with LifeLink PSU, which is a partnership between the State College Area School District (SCASD) and the College of Education. Qualified SCASD students with disabilities, aged 18-21, can take classes at University Park. Penn State students volunteer to mentor those students.

“I was able to work with incredible and inspiring people through LifeLink my freshman and sophomore years,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about people with special needs and how to meet those needs in the classroom.”

O’Donnell spent his fall semester student teaching in Jönköping, Sweden.

“The education system in Sweden is definitely different than in the U.S.,” he said. “Being able to see both systems in action has been a great opportunity, letting me see the best they have to offer.”

During the summer, O’Donnell was a staff adviser for the Penn State Summer Study Program, which he called one of the greatest experiences of his life. He taught a pre-calculus enrichment course to high school students attending Penn State over the summer.

“The program gave me the ability to run every aspect of the course myself, giving me complete control,” he said. “I was able to be the type of teacher I plan on being in my career, so I was able to learn what worked, what did not work and mature overall as an educator.”

While at Penn State, O’Donnell has achieved a 3.95 GPA with support from his academic adviser, Rose Mary Zbiek. He is a member of both the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society for education students.

O’Donnell is currently seeking full-time employment as a teacher on the east coast. In the meantime, he plans on trying to substitute teach.

“Ultimately, I want to make a difference in the lives of my students,” he said. “If they can leave my classroom more mature and with more knowledge, then I did my job.”

By Jack Small (December 2014)