Michelle Powers
Director, Chaiken Center for Student Success
Klug_Patricia_2 (1)
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.

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.
Sammy Vaillancourt

Samantha (Sammy) Vaillancourt

Samantha (Sammy) is a third-year student majoring in Corporate Innovations and Entrepreneurship with minors in Psychology and Sustainability Leadership. She is from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Sammy is the president of the Queer Business Leaders and an active member of Student Farm, Fashion Society, and the Outing Club at Penn State.

Tia Drebot

Tatiana (Tia) Drebot

Tatiana (Tia) is a fourth-year student majoring in Labor and Human Resources with a minor in Sociology. She is from Dover, Pennsylvania, and this is her second year as a peer success coach in the Chaiken Center. Tia is also a teaching assistant for the Department of Economics and a Chapel Executive Intern. During her time at Penn State, Tia has completed human resources internships with Howmet Aerospace and PNC Financial Services.

“I struggled getting used to the whole college dynamic as a first-year student, and I hope I can assist others in getting used to this amazing and exciting campus. I am a first-generation and minority student. I know what it is like to struggle academically or not know whom to go to for academic concerns, and I want to help others who are facing similar circumstances. My college journey is thankfully supported by several academic scholarships through the College of the Liberal Arts, and I would love to guide others in finding that same support.”

Mandy Bhuiyan

Mandoline (Mandy) Bhuiyan

Mandoline (Mandy) is a fourth-year student majoring in Criminology and Psychology. She is from Norristown, Pennsylvania. At Penn State, Mandoline is the treasurer and outreach chair for DMAX Club, which aims to eliminate the stigma of issues related to mental health and encourage safe and caring conversations about mental and emotional issues among students. She is also a liaison for Penn State Infusion, which organizes a large Bollywood-fusion dance competition on campus. In the College of the Liberal Arts, Mandoline has enjoyed the connections she’s made with students and faculty with diverse experiences. She is excited to support students on their academic journey and help them find resources and experiences they didn’t imagine were possible.

“As a first-generation college student, I was responsible for navigating through the entirety of the college process by myself. Through copious amounts of trial and error, I feel that I have gained a lot of insider knowledge and tips and tricks that could only have been achieved through personal experience.”

Nia Smith

Nia Smith

Nia is a fourth-year student majoring in Psychology and Women’s Studies with a minor in Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies. She is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nia is president of Hope Here Hope Now, which is Penn State’s only student-run human trafficking awareness organization. As a first-generation student, Nia really enjoys the endless opportunities available in the College of the Liberal Arts.

“During the first half of my second year, I experienced a lot of change that I navigated myself through, and those changes helped me learn how to make executive decisions regarding my own college journey. Also, being a first-year student during the pandemic made me figure things out on my own, and therefore, I feel when it comes to navigating Penn State in person or online, I have a pretty good understanding already.”


Kaisha Garvin-Darby

Kaisha is a fourth-year student majoring in Psychology (Neuroscience option) with a minor in Biology. She is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kaisha is involved in a neural engineering lab at Penn State. Within the College of the Liberal Arts, Kaisha has enjoyed all of the opportunities and resources available and the wide range of majors. She is excited to connect with and serve as a resource for other Liberal Arts students.

“I have struggled in finding out what I truly wanted to do and what path I wanted to take, so I think showing students how to ground themselves and figure out how to find their passion will be the major way I can connect to them.”


Peer Success Coaching

Students can meet with a peer success coach through the Chaiken Center to get help navigating college and University resources. The peer success coaches act as guides, listeners, and motivational partners to undergraduate students in the College of the Liberal Arts. Peer success coaches are experienced Penn State students who also help incoming first-year, transfer, and change-of-campus students connect with the campus community. Meet with a peer success coach Monday–Thursday from 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. or Friday from 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. for personalized action plans on these topics and more.

  • Goal setting
  • Motivational techniques
  • Stress management
  • Studying strategies
  • Time management
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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 Michelle Powers at 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.”
The College's First-Generation Committee planned a First Gen social mixer with faculty, staff and students in the spring semester of 2023.
The College's First-Generation Committee planned a First Gen social mixer with faculty, staff and students in the spring semester of 2023

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 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. 

Gene and Roz Chaiken with Chaiken Scholars at the 2022 Chaiken Scholars Reception
Gene and Roz Chaiken with Chaiken Scholars at the 2022 Chaiken Scholars Reception
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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