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A serendipitous conversation on a bus during her first semester led to Maria San Román’s four-year involvement with SNAP’s Penn State chapter. Four years later, she is preparing to graduate in May with an impressive array of achievements under her belt.

As president of SNAP at Penn State during her senior year, Maria led the chapter to winning the Chapter Excellence Award at the statewide convention for the third year in a row, and developed a website that won the Outstanding Chapter Website award at the same event. On a personal level, Maria was honored to receive the Student Leader Scholarship Award, administered through the Office of Student Activities, in December.

“As SNAP president, Maria leads a large and very active student organization that had a record-breaking attendance for the first meeting of the year,” said SNAP adviser Mary Ellen Yonushonis, who nominated Maria for the scholarship award. “Maria works closely with her officers to help the members grow personally and professionally.”

It began when, as a first-year student, Maria noticed a group of students in Penn State Nursing scrubs boarding a CATA bus downtown. She approached them to start a conversation about the Nursing program and how excited she was to be a part of it. Her energy and enthusiasm impressed Lauren White, a 2017 graduate who was then vice president of SNAP.

“She thought I would be a good candidate to become involved,” recalled Maria. “I joined SNAP and have been active every semester.”

Assuming a leadership position was a natural fit for Maria, who was class president and a student council member in high school. “I love taking charge of a group of people and getting them to work together,” she said. While at Hershey her junior year, Maria served as vice president of the SNAP organization there, which set the stage for her to run for president at University Park the following year. She had many ideas for improving the chapter’s operations.

“One goal I had was to make SNAP more professional,” she said. In addition to developing the website, she worked with Bill Hartsock, the College of Nursing’s IT specialist, to develop a logo for the chapter. She also increased the frequency of officer meetings from biweekly to weekly and established additional office hours to give members more time to meet with chapter officers. The SNAP office moved to a larger space in January, with more room to hold meetings.

“I’m so excited for students to see the new office,” she said. “I think it’s really the kind of environment where people will want to come and spend time.”

The future looks equally promising for Maria, who plans to work in a hospital emergency department in Manhattan, not far from her Long Island hometown, after graduation. It’s a fitting conclusion for a nurse who describes Penn State as a “family business” (her physician father attended the College of Medicine).

“We all grew up as Penn State fans,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.”