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Sincerely Siena’s successes at West Chester University

Siena Catanzaro posing professionally for photographer and friend Emily Steffey.

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Siena Catanzaro, graduate of North Penn class of 2015, never thought that her time spent at North Penn would impact the major she would be pursuing in college. Now student at West Chester University, Catanzaro looks forward to the day she can be an impactful teacher, just like those who influenced her at her old high school.

“I have embodied education, that is my passion, that is my life philosophy, everything I do revolves around education now,” explained Catanzaro.

The former Knight Crier staff writer took advantage of her three years at North Penn by being an active member in the community; she was involved with chorus all 3 years, participated in NPHS theatre shows such as Our Town and Beauty and the Beast, served as treasurer and president of FCCLA (Family Consumer Community Leaders of America,) served as the fundraising coordinator and vice president of thespian troupe, and managed the position of Team Leader at Chick fil a, Lansdale.

“I always want to get involved, and if I’m in something, I take leadership,” added Catanzaro.

How did North Penn affect you?

“When you go to school at North Penn you are in this bubble, which is a great bubble. North Penn is honestly such an outstanding school. You have no idea how lucky you are to be a Knight, how lucky you are to say that you are from this area, and I took it for granted. I am now a tutor at West Chester; I tutor an entry level writing class that all students have to take. The students I tutor are in the academic development program. Over the summer they got accepted into WCU, but they might have to go to the summer session, might not have the highest GPA, might not meet the requirements or SAT scores, but West Chester saw them and said ‘Okay, we see potential in you.’ These students don’t know what an independent sentence is. They don’t know where the semicolon button is on the keyboard. That’s how North Penn has affected me, and made me extremely grateful for where I come from and the education I have. It also made me, not in a bad sense, narrow minded. I thought that, ‘oh, I gave a great school, all the other schools are like this as well.’ But no, we have amazing teachers. The Knight Crier doesn’t exist in some other schools! These after school extracurricular activities are so amazing in essence, it was awesome.”

What do you miss about North Penn? “The Knight Crier, I miss for sure. I miss the football games so much, but nothing against West Chester football because they made it super far. All of the other sports teams are doing extremely well, it’s just I miss those Friday nights, going to the games and being there. I went to one West Chester game and there was no student section! I was like ‘excuse me, what’s going on?’. I went to some of my brother, AJ’s North Penn football games. It was really cool to go back to the games, but I do miss that a lot. I just gave Carter, my younger brother, a North Penn scarf that I would wear to the games. I would scream and yell my head off. I miss that. Also, with theatre I would help a lot behind the scenes, like with the BC/EFA gala. I miss the thrill of being up on stage and performing because I don’t do that at school. I used to dance sophomore through junior year, so I miss that too. It’s something that I don’t think I can get back. That’s what I’m excited for: to be able to teach and to be an adviser and just be involved in that aspect.

What are you involved at West Chester University? “My sorority is Alpha Phi. I got into Alpha Phi last year, fall of 2016. I was a new member as a sophomore and I am in my second term now as the director of academics. Scholarships is one of our six values in Alpha Phi. As director of academics I promote scholarships and education throughout our entire chapter (weekly meetings). I have study sessions, so I just block off a room in one of the buildings and girls will go there to study. I do ‘geek of the month,’ where girls submit a nomination of themselves or another sister. We also do ‘geek of the week’. During our weekly meetings I’ll have [the girls] write down an achievement [they’ve] made academically. It could be that I went to classes, I studied hard, it can be test grade. But I’m trying to gear them away from the test grade and show them it’s the effort that you put into school. I’m also involved in the student affiliate of The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association (student PSEA)!”

While some sororities are known for lots of partying, Catanzaro wants the world to know that WCU’s Alpha Phi is quite the exception.

“This semester, I just started in the director of academics program ADAPT, Academic Development Attention and Prevention Team. That is kind of like a watch care. If you have a sister who is not going to classes, failing stuff, but you don’t want to intervene because that can hurt a friendship, I am the academic resource they can come to and say ‘hey, I’m really nervous about so-and-so, can you come and talk to them?’ so then I reach out them and say ‘hey, someone confidentially has reached out to me and asked me to meet with you because they’re nervous about your grades’. So then I set up a meeting, we talk, and I check back in with them. We’re not just that stereotypical sorority. I’m that person that promotes the scholarship and education and keeps it alive in our Chapter, which is really refreshing.

Catanzaro’s sorority not only aids to each sister, but also other women that are suffering from heart conditions.

“Every sister has a philanthropy, ours is the Alpha Phi Women’s Foundation for Cardiac Care. This is super cool because we can help our sisters who are suffering with any kind of heart condition, which is the number one killer in women, so you see that impact. Some of our sisters are suffering right now, one girl is a month away from getting a pacer. We just had our red dress gala. We don’t know how much we made, but last year we made over $13,000 in one night. Then in February we have ‘heart month.’ Throughout the whole entire month of February we have ‘Dine and Donates’, we have raffle baskets going, and we had a ‘Hoops for Hearts tournament,’ so we do a lot. It’s not just my sorority, it’s my dad’s friend’s mom, it’s my actual friend, it’s my friend who had open heart surgery when she was a baby. It’s so many things that it really just opens your eyes.”

What advice do you have for high schoolers? “Go away to college. You learn so much about yourself, your independence. You’re not under your parents’ guidance anymore. You learn so much about who you are and who you’re identity is. So definitely go away, but critically analyze this world. It is not a perfect place. There are things that are wrong. There is injustice, there is inequality. It is disgusting. I did not start analyzing what was happening until I got to college and I felt like I was left out. I was like ‘what was I doing?’ Start realizing, understanding, analyzing, but lastly, start reading books. We talk about this in my classes. Books are either mirrors, windows, or sliding glass doors. You can look and see a reflection of yourself in a book. You can look and feel as though you’re in a window or you can feel as if you’re in someone else’s shoes. Just read, read, read and analyze this world.”

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Sincerely Siena’s successes at West Chester University”

  1. Siena on December 7th, 2017 4:22 pm

    Thank you Jill for this beautiful article! You have captured my voice so well. Thank you for thinking of me!

    [Reply]

  2. Monica on December 7th, 2017 7:30 pm

    Jillian, such an excellent job with this article. You captured every avenue of Siena which clearly means you spent a lot of time listening & understanding. Thank you for caring. Keep up the great work. We appreciate all that you do!

    [Reply]

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Sincerely Siena’s successes at West Chester University