We are proud of our alumni. Our graduates have made distinguished contributions to their communities, have provided leadership in business, have contributed to complicated efforts of diplomacy, conflict resolution, community planning, and have contributed responsibly as elected officials. Some are even professors! All are lifelong learners of politics and civic engagement, and are active citizens in their communities, nations and in international organizations.
Alumni Award Recipients
2019-20 Outstanding Young Alumni - Melinda Kuritzky
Melinda is a 2006 International Politics and Spanish alumna who leads on global risks and geopolitics at the World Economic Forum. Melinda holds a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School and a master of public policy degree from Harvard Kennedy School. An attorney by training, Melinda has worked for many years at the intersection of international law, politics, and risk. Before joining the World Economic Forum, she focused on creating sustainable development oriented policy solutions for the international investment regime at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Melinda has published on topics such as environmental risks in international arbitration, public health and human rights, and international migration.
2020-21 Outstanding Young Alumni - Cristina Infanzón
Originally from Puerto Rico, Cristina majored in International Relations with minors in International Studies, Sociology, and French. She graduated from Penn State in 2013, followed by a juris doctorate from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, where she began an impressive career serving migrant populations. While in law school, Cristina worked as a law clerk for a Boston law firm and also with an organization in Mexico City, Mexico that provides direct
services and legal representation to migrants with claims related to their employment in the United States. She also worked with the Human Rights Commission of the City of Boston drafting policies to address racial and social justice. Today, she is the Department of Justice managing accredited representative for the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Phoenix, Arizona, where she oversees the quality of services provided for unaccompanied minors.
2019-20 Outstanding Public Service - Peter Grollman
Peter earned his bachelor’s degree in 1995 and went on to earn a master of government administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Today, he is senior vice president for external affairs for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), where he supports the hospital’s patient care, education, and research mission. He oversees the departments of Marketing and Public Relations; Diversity and Inclusion; Government Affairs; and Community Relations, in addition to supporting the president and CEO with external affairs matters. Ultimately, he is responsible for ensuring that the hospital’s external communications, commitment to a diverse and inclusive environment, community engagement, and health policy goals align with CHOP’s overall mission.
Peter is an active volunteer, serving on the board of directors for the Greater Philadelphia YMCA and the University City District, and as board chair for the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. Peter also served on the Health Transition Review Team for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.
2020-21 Outstanding Public Service - Melissa Protzek Caltagarone
Melissa earned degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from Penn State in 1995, followed by a juris doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. An attorney by training, Melissa has spent more than two decades advocating for at-risk children and families and currently serves as the executive director of the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program of Allegheny County—known as CASA—where she has worked with more than 800 volunteers to advocate for some 2,000 abused and neglected children. Melissa has been a member of several child welfare organizations. For her outstanding work, she has been honored with several honors and awards, including being named in 2010 the National CASA Director of the Year and one of the top 25 Women in Business by the Pittsburgh Business Times. A lifetime member of the Penn State Alumni Association and a past adjunct professor at Penn State New Kensington, Melissa received the Department of Philosophy Alumni Award in 2018.
2019-20 Outstanding Alumni - Patti McGill Peterson
Patti graduated from Penn State in 1965 with her Political Science degree and went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Wisconsin. She also was awarded a Carnegie Fellowship for postgraduate study at Harvard University. Dr. Peterson has had a very impressive fifty-year career in higher education, which has included serving as a faculty member at the State University of New York, Syracuse University, and Wells College and as president of Wells College and St. Lawrence University. She has held prominent international, national, and statewide leadership positions and has served on several advisory boards. Most recently, Dr. Peterson served as presidential advisor for global initiatives at the American Council on Education.
2020-21 Outstanding Alumni - Larry Seamans
Larry earned his Political Science degree in 1985 and went on to earn a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is currently the president of FamilyAid Boston, the city’s largest human service provider focused solely on the needs of homeless children and their parents. Before FamilyAid, Larry held positions with the YWCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Procter & Gamble, and other organizations. A tireless advocate for the less fortunate and marginalized, Larry responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by turning FamilyAid’s corporate offices into a warehouse that distributes food and supplies to needy families on a weekly basis. He has served on several boards and task forces, and he is a frequent speaker on older child adoption. Larry participates in the Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program, and last fall took advantage of a matching gift program to create the Makowski Seamans Family Educational Equity Scholarship.