New Kensington students, faculty recognized with awards

Annual academic and achievement awards recognize academic, teaching and engagement honors
Arch statue

The 2021 Academic and Student Achievement Awards were announced April 30, 2021.

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Penn State New Kensington announced its academic, teaching and engagement award winners on April 30. A dedicated, virtual recognition web page, including video messages, photos and award winners listings, can be viewed at

With the health and safety of students and the campus community a priority and to follow recommended protocols due to COVID-19, the campus did not host an in-person awards ceremony. However, the awards planning committee created a way to assure that students and faculty members could be recognized and celebrated. During the week of April 12, awardees were able to register to pick up their certificates, official awards program and gifts, as well as take individual portraits in a physically-distanced manner.

Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award

The highest student honor awarded, the Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award, was presented to Bradyn Claycomb, a senior electro-mechanical engineering technology major.

“When a member of Penn State New Kensington thinks of a leader on campus, one of the first that comes to their mind is Bradyn,” said one of four nominators.

Bradyn Claycomb

Bradyn Claycomb, a senior electro-mechanical engineering technology student, was named the 2021 Eric  A. and Josephine S. Walker Award winner at Penn State New Kensington.

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich

In addition to his academic studies, where he has found his future career path with electro-mechanical engineering technology, Claycomb is a regular leader and participant in many campus organizations including the Campus Activities Board, Orientation Leaders, Engineering Club, Sockrates Gaming Club, Photo Club and Film Club. He has also been a three-year member of the campus’ THON organization, where he is currently president and was chosen to represent the campus, not once, but twice, as a THON dancer during the 46-hour dance marathon in 2019 and 2020. Claycomb’s outgoing personality, willingness to help others and the energy he shows in almost everything he does has made him one of the most-recognized members of the campus community.

Another nomination letter stated, “Bradyn demonstrates resilience, grit, determination, hard work and commitment in the pursuit of his degree, and equally in his pursuit of involvement in any student activity, where he aims to make a positive and successful environment for everyone involved.”

When Claycomb isn’t on campus or participating in a campus-related activity, he runs his own business, Ripcord Productions, where he has offered music, lighting and sound rental and services since 2010. He also brings his engineering and technology skills to his other current jobs as a PLC programming engineer for an energy control system company and as a lighting technician for the New Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh. It was his character and tech-savviness that also led him to be hired on campus with the Help Desk in the Computer Center.

“I give back what I can because I know that the betterment of our campus will help us all achieve our goals in the long run,” said Claycomb. “I don’t think I could feel more at home anywhere else, and I wouldn’t give up Penn State New Kensington for anything. This is my family, my home and the best education I could ask for.”

Student Awards

Students receiving academic honors were recognized for having high grade-point averages in their respective majors or within the University, as well as participation in the campus honors programs.

Accolades for leadership and participation in athletics and campus activities were also highlighted.

The Penn State New Kensington Alumni Society recognized senior Calle Zmenkowski as this year’s Penn State Spirit Award winner for exhibiting integrity and character while exuding Penn State pride. Thirteen students were celebrated for being campus “influencers” through out-of-class involvement and engagement. A number of athletics awards were also presented and included United States Athletic Association (USCAA) All-Academic Team and Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) Academic All-Conference honors. 

Teaching Awards

Two faculty members were honored with Excellence in Teaching Awards — Kristen Pueschel, assistant teaching professor of mathematics (full-time), and Ronald Seyko, adjunct instructor of administration of justice (part-time). Faculty have three areas of responsibility: teaching, research/scholarly activity and service. The principle criterion is classroom performance, but excellence in other activities such as advising, supervision of learning outside the classroom and course development are also considered for the accolades. 

Kristen Pueschel

Kristen Pueschel, assistant teaching professor of mathematics, was named the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award (Full-Time) recipient at Penn State New Kensington. 

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich
Ronald Seyko

Ronald Seyko, adjunct instructor of administration of justice, was named the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award (Part-Time) recipient at Penn State New Kensington.

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich
Allen Larson

Allen Larson, associate professor of communications, was named the 2021 Arlene E. Hall Service Award recipient at Penn State New Kensington

Credit: Penn State New Kensington

In addition, Allen Larson, associate professor of communications, received the Arlene Hall Service Award, which is given annually in recognition of high-quality service to the campus, college, University, discipline and community as a representative of Penn State. 

To view the entire listing of awards, photos and video messages from campus leadership, visit