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Director, Chaiken Center for Student Success
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Chaiken Center for Student Success
Chaiken Center for Student Success

A Place for Connection and Community

The Roz and Gene Chaiken Center for Student Success is a welcoming and inclusive space for all Liberal Arts students to work, study, and connect with peers and support staff. Learn more about college and University resources or further your academic, personal, and professional goals. The center also serves as a one stop shop for information and questions.

Services include: 

  • Open study 
  • College and campus resource connection
  • Peer success coaching drop-ins and appointments
  • Student success workshops and programming

The Chaiken Center for Student Success, in partnership with our college and University resources, provides undergraduate students with a supportive place to be guided as they navigate their college journey. We empower students to utilize resources, connect with peers and campus communities, cultivate strengths and interests, and advocate for themselves, so they can achieve their individual goals for academic, personal, and professional success.

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Chaiken Scholars

Scholarships, academic guidance, community, and funded experiences for post-graduate success.

First-Generation Support

The Chaiken Center is your place to find support and resources for first-generation students in the college.

Explore Resources

Download these free resources today to take the first step toward unlocking your full potential.

Peer Mentoring and Coaching

Students can meet with a peer mentor or success coach through the Chaiken Center to get help navigating college and University resources. Our mentors and coaches are experienced Penn State students who help current students, as well as incoming first-year, transfer, and change-of-campus students, connect with the campus community. 

When you meet with a peer mentor, they’ll tell you what’s worked for them and impart their wisdom on you. It’s about learning from their experiences. These are meant to be one-off meetings to help you get to know the center and available resources. While peer mentoring is open to all Liberal Arts students, Chaiken Scholars are assigned a peer mentor as part of the Chaiken Scholar First-Year Seminar.  

Peer success coaches act as guides, listeners, and motivational partners to undergraduate students in the College of the Liberal Arts. Peer success coaching helps you think about your goals and motivations and provides you with techniques so you can be in the driver’s seat.  

Meet with a peer success coach weekly or biweekly during the fall and spring semesters for personalized action plans on these topics and more. 

  • Goal setting 
  • Motivational techniques 
  • Stress management 
  • Studying strategies 
  • Time management 
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Sammy-Vaillancourt-

Sammy Vaillancourt

Peer Success Coach

Sammy (she/her) is a fourth-year student majoring in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship and triple minoring in Psychology, Art, and Sustainability Leadership. Sammy is an active member of Queer Business Leaders, Penn State Outing Club, Fashion Society at Penn State, and Student Farm at Penn State.

“I chose to become a peer success coach so that I could help others toward personal and academic success. That ‘ah ha’ moment of helping a peer solve or find a new solution to a pressing problem is my favorite.”

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Abby-Fusaro

Abby Fusaro

Peer Success Coach

Abby is a third-year student majoring in Criminology and minoring in Psychological Science. Abby is a member of the Justice Association.

“I love helping other people and coming up with ways to make their lives a little less stressful. I enjoy showing students a new technique or skill that could benefit them in their daily lives.”

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Laci-Moore

Laci Moore

Peer Success Coach

Laci is a second-year student double majoring in Criminology and Psychology. Laci is involved in the Legal Empowerment Brigade within Penn State Global Brigades and Blue & White Society.

“I was deeply impacted by my peer mentor. She was a great support system since my first year. She inspired me to apply for this job so I can help others. I enjoy being part of students’ support system and guiding them to success within the college.”

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Cameryn-Allen

Cameryn Allen

Peer Mentor

Cameryn is a fourth-year student majoring in Psychology. Cameryn is an undergraduate research ambassador, the student liaison on the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board of Directors, and a Liberal Arts First-Generation Committee member.

“I chose to become a peer mentor to help students find resources that I wish I knew of earlier in my college career. I look forward to connecting with students one-on-one to offer emotional and academic assistance.”

Read Cameryn’s story

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Viktor-Frolenko

Victor Frolenko

Peer Success Coach

Victor is a fourth-year student double majoring in Spanish and Nutritional Sciences with a minor in Neuroscience. He’s a member of the Culinary Medicine Club and Social Dance Club at Penn State.

“I’ve come to love helping everyone with questions because I’ve asked a billion more during my time and really learned a lot. I’m really looking forward to building lasting relationships and having regular meetings with the students I coach.”

Read Victor’s story

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Igor Latsanych

Peer Success Coach

Igor is a fourth-year student majoring in International Relations and minoring in Business and the Liberal Arts. He’s President of the Ukrainian Student Society, Vice President of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), Director of Outreach of the Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS), Treasurer of the Rifle Club, and a member of Pi Sigma Alpha at Penn State.

“Since my years in highschool, I dedicated much of my time to speaking and helping others through academic and motivational troubles. While I am still learning, I have accumulated a lot over the years which I hope to utilize when building a support network for anyone who enters Sparks 139. I can’t wait to begin our journey to achieve YOUR definition of success!”

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Diana-Lopez

Diana Lopez

Peer Success Coach

Diana is a second-year student majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Spanish and Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies. Diana is a McNair Scholar, hotline counselor at Centre Helps, and ESL tutor volunteer at Mid-State Literacy Council.

“My first year in college as a first-generation student was extremely overwhelming. It was difficult navigating academics, involvement, and socialization all on my own. I can understand what it is like to feel when you are struggling and do not know where to go. Students should not have to navigate these issues and struggle by themselves. As a peer success coach, I help students in all aspects of student life.”

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Alena-Kolesar

Alena Kolesar

Peer Mentor

Alena is a second-year student majoring in Psychology and minoring in Journalism. Alena is a member of the Student Programming Association (SPA) and Art Club at Penn State, as well as a teaching assistant for PSYCH 100 and an orientation leader for New Student Orientation.

“I became a peer mentor to help students gain the best experience out of college and develop skills and habits that will help them throughout their whole life. I enjoy helping students grow and become the best versions of themselves.”

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CamrenBoyogueno

Camren Boyogueno

Peer Mentor

Camren is a third-year student majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biology. Camren is the co-pageant director of the Caribbean Student Association.

“I chose to become a peer mentor because my peer mentor through my first and second year of college was so helpful in all aspects of what college life is. I enjoy being the same type of guiding light for my mentees.”

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A Collaborative and Innovative Space

Looking for a group study space? Reserve 139 Sparks Building in the Chaiken Center. It is equipped with a Solstice Pod and other technology available to your group for effective and innovative studying techniques. You can also reserve the space to practice presentations with friends.

If you are a club or student organization connected to the Liberal Arts, you can reserve space for meetings. Our OWL technology allows you to host hybrid meetings so more people can attend.

Email Patty Klug at pfk5256@psu.edu to check availability or to make a reservation. This opportunity is open to all Liberal Arts students.

“The Chaiken Center means community. I know it is a place I am welcomed and validated.”
Anonymous
A group of panelists speaking at the 2024 First-Gen Mixer, engaging in discussions with a diverse audience.
2024 First-Gen Mixer Panel

First-Generation Support

What is a First-Generation Student? Being a first-gen student means that your parent(s) did not complete a 4-year college or university degree, regardless of other family member’s level of education. If you have more questions about whether you may be a First-Generation student, check out Are You A First-Generation Student?

The Chaiken Center hosts celebrations for National First-Generation College Celebration week, workshops, alumni speakers, and cultivates leadership and community through our First-Generation College Committee.

Other ways we support our first-generation students are with a First-Generation graduation stoles and funding opportunities for internships, education abroad, undergraduate research, and professional development and graduate school application and preparation fees. Contact Patty Klug, Director, at pfk5256@psu.edu for more information.

Chaiken Scholars

In 2008, Gene and Roz Chaiken established the Chaiken Scholars program. Every year, roughly 50 Liberal Arts students are selected as Chaiken Scholars based on their academic achievements in high school. Chaiken Scholars receive financial support and access to special resources and programming, including a mentor, workshops, and get-togethers with the Chaiken Scholar community. Chaiken Scholars also have the opportunity to participate in the First-Year Chaiken Scholar Learning Community course. 

Chaiken Scholars Reception FA23 group photo (1)
Gene and Roz Chaiken with Children
Gene and Roz Chaiken with their children.
Gene and Roz Chaiken
Gene and Roz Chaiken
Gene Chaiken with the Chaiken Scholars
Gene Chaiken with the Chaiken Scholars

Who are Gene and Roz Chaiken?

Through the philanthropic leadership of Gene and Roz Chaiken, who are cumulatively the most generous donors in the history of the College of the Liberal Arts, hundreds of undergraduates have been able to afford a Penn State education, and the college’s academic programs have been permanently enhanced.

A 1962 Business Administration graduate, Gene is chairman of the board for Almo Corporation, and Roz is executive vice president of the family business. Gene has served in many volunteer roles with his alma mater, and the Chaikens have been making philanthropic gifts to the University for decades. They chose the Liberal Arts as their initial philanthropic focus to help establish and sustain the Jewish Studies program, and their desire to ease the financial burden on students led them to establish the Gene and Roz Chaiken Trustee Scholarship in 2008, followed in 2013 by the Chaiken Family Trustee Scholarship.

To date, these endowments have resulted in more than 1,000 scholarships—amounting to nearly $6.2 million in student support. In 2019, the Chaikens cemented their position as the University’s largest Trustee Scholarship donors with substantial gifts to enhance their existing endowments. In 2021, the Chaikens established the Roz and Gene Chaiken Center for Student Success. That year, the couple was recognized as Penn State’s Philanthropists of the Year. In December 2021, the Chaikens announced their largest gift to date, a single commitment that dramatically increased the Chaiken Family Trustee Scholarship endowment and covered the balance of their pledges for other student-related funds including the Chaiken Center for Student Success endowment and the Chaiken Centennial Graduate Endowment. As a result of their gift, the Penn State Board of Trustees agreed to name the college’s currently under construction building the Susan Welch Liberal Arts Building. 

Gene has been honored as a Penn State Distinguished Alumnus and Alumni Fellow, and in 2013, the college created and presented Roz and Gene with the inaugural Chaiken Leadership Award, which annually recognizes an individual or couple for outstanding generosity. The Chaikens’ genuine warmth and affection for the recipients of their support, as well as their extraordinary philanthropy, will have lasting impact in the College of the Liberal Arts and throughout the Penn State community. 

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