SRU student team prepares for Advocacy Days


capital building of harrisburg pennsylvania

April 1, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A team of 10 Slippery Rock University students will join nearly 150 students, faculty, administrators, trustees and alumni from the 14 universities that comprise Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education and visit the Capitol next week to meet with legislators and to discuss the important role SRU plays in the community, as well as in the region and across Pennsylvania.

SRU's student team includes:

  • Yonshalae Powell, a senior communication major from Sharon;
  • Lauren Fagan, a senior psychology major from West Mifflin;
  • Ayanna Byers, a senior psychology major from New Castle;
  • Julian Galante, a junior political science major from Pittsburgh;
  • Bryan Deal, a junior safety management major from Bethel Park;
  • Brandon Cannon, a senior communication/public relations major from Oakdale;
  • Ian Banks, a junior communication/public relations major from Johnstown;
  • Logan Steigerwalt, a junior marketing major from Northampton;
  • D'Rae Wise, a senior physical education/fitness management major from Pittsburgh; and
  • Quentin Donorfrio, a senior mathematics/actuarial science major from Middletown.

The team will meet April 5-6 with members of both the state House of Representatives and state Senate to talk about their college experience and how important the education they are receiving at SRU is to them, to their families and to the future of the Commonwealth.

SRU President Cheryl Norton; Rita Abent, executive director for Communication and Public Affairs; Robb King, associate executive director for Communication and Public Affairs; and Tina Moser, chief of staff, will accompany the student team.

SRU will also will join its sister institutions in setting up displays in the Main Capitol Rotunda. SRU will be demonstrating how it uses artificial intelligence and robot technology to help address learning issues with children on the autism spectrum.

Members of SRU's research demonstration team, led by Sam Thangiah, professor of compute science, include:

  • Stephen Fulton, a junior computer science major from Irwin;
  • Zachary Kearney, a senior computer science major from Pittsburgh;
  • Daniel Martin, a senior computer science major from South Park; and
  • Michael Scott, a senior computer science major from Chicora.

"Our annual advocacy event gives all of our universities the opportunity to showcase some of the truly outstanding programs they offer," said Chancellor Frank Brogan. "It gives our students the opportunity to tell their own, personal stories, and to talk about the high-quality, high-value education they are receiving and how that education will prepare them for success in the future."

Brogan and Board of Governors Chairman Guido Pichini will speak briefly during the event about the many contributions the State System universities make to the state's economic vitality. During a news conference scheduled for 10 a.m., April 6, in the Rotunda, they will discuss the System's economic impact, as well as recent findings from an ongoing study regarding the changing workforce in Pennsylvania and how higher education is meeting the commonwealth's needs.

"Higher education in general, and the State System in particular, represents one of Pennsylvania's best investments," Pichini said. "Not only are the universities preparing the workforce of tomorrow, they are generating enormous economic activity in their home communities, in their regions and across the commonwealth--to the tune of nearly $7 billion a year. That benefits everyone in the state."

Also scheduled to speak at the press conference are Clarion University President Karen Whitney and Riley Thomas, a student at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania. Mansfield was the top participating institution in the #InvestInMe social media advocacy campaign. The purpose of the campaign was to remind legislators that System students should be seen as an investment for the state--not an expenditure--because 80 percent of them will remain in Pennsylvania after graduation and will continue to contribute to the economy within their local communities and the commonwealth.

At the conclusion of the news conference, Brogan will introduce the 2016 winner of "Mascot Madness," a friendly competition among the universities that gives students, alumni and others the opportunity to vote on social media for their favorite university mascot. The championship round between Kutztown University and Slippery Rock University kicks off at 9 a.m., April 4 and runs through 9 a.m., April 5 on the System's Twitter account (@statesystem). This is the second year for the competition. Last year Kutztown's "Avalanche" edged out Slippery Rock's "Rocky" by 11 votes to earn the win.

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 |