The Association for Women in Sports Media has selected Penn State as its 2020 student chapter of the year.
The Penn State student chapter is led by president Ally Lutter, vice president Anna Middleton, secretary Frankie Molen and treasurer Megan Harris. John Affleck, the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at the university’s Bellisario College of Communications, serves as the chapter adviser. Penn State, which first received this award in 2018, now joins Oklahoma State as the only student chapters to receive it twice.
“Penn State has once again proven to be a strong branch of our organization at the student level. These young women know the importance of providing ways to expand their connections and explore future career paths through AWSM while furthering their education on a consistent basis,” said Ashley Colley, AWSM’s president. “Even after the pandemic caused us to put a pause on required student programming, this group wanted to continue with what they had lined up for the year. They didn’t miss a beat, shifting to the virtual space and inviting our other student chapters across the country to join them as well. This led to a lot of our students being able to come together during this difficult time and embodied the AWSM spirit of being a support network for one another.”
In addition to regular meetings, Penn State hosted 11 speaker events including and helped co-host an event that gave members an opportunity to tour the ESPN College GameDay set on campus. Speakers during the 2019-20 academic year ranged from Yahoo! Sports reporter Michelle Gingras, who members of the chapter connected with during the 2019 convention in Tampa, to ESPN’s Holly Rowe and Emily Kaplan. The chapter also took the opportunity this year to put a big emphasis on hearing from recent graduates as part of their programming plan. Past members whose work ranges from running social media platforms in the NFL to helping produce various shows at ESPN to handling public relations in New York City were guest speakers featured this year. The chapter also organized a field trip to Pittsburgh, where they were able to tour and learn more about PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“Our programming helps our members connect with professionals who are doing exactly what they want to do,” said Lutter. “They have the ability to ask questions during our hour long meetings, as well as connect with them one-on-one after. We want it to help our members find new passions and even internships that will propel them into the field. It is super important to the executive board that our members can trust each other and have AWSM Penn State feel more like a family environment. Despite school being placed online due to COVID-19, we figured out how to move things online and held all but one event we originally scheduled. In addition to moving the rest of our semester online, we were able to plan more meetings and provide our members with more connections.”
Officers for the upcoming academic year will be president Megan Harris, vice president Kelly Warner, secretary Sydney Haykel and treasurer Dayna Brewer. Penn State has consistently excelled in recruiting new members and developing future chapter leaders.
The student chapter at Missouri was chosen as runner-up for chapter of the year. Some highlights of Missouri’s programming included AWSM members Nicole Auerbach, Gina Lehe and Iliana Limón Romero speaking to the group as well as Mizzou grads Kris Budden and Kylie Callura. The chapter also hosted a watch party for NBC's International Women's Day broadcast of Blues vs. Blackhawks in March. In May, they arranged to have Kate Scott, Kendall Coyne-Schofield, AJ Mleczko Griswold, Lisa Seltzer, Kaitlin Urka and Rene Hatlelid join them for a Zoom call open to all AWSM student chapters.
Previous AWSM chapter of the year honorees: Quinnipiac (2019), Oklahoma State (2017 and 2013), Michigan State (2016), Missouri (2015) and Michigan (2014).