Indiana University of Pennsylvania honored three alumni and a graduating student for outstanding volunteerism through the Award of Excellence in Volunteer Leadership program, held during the annual Volunteer Recognition Breakfast on April 13.

The event was part of the university’s Celebration Weekend, which included the university’s Distinguished Alumni Awards gala on April 13.

The Award of Excellence program is sponsored by the IUP Alumni Association and is presented in four categories: Advancement Support, Affinity Services, Aspiring Alumni, and Regional Impact.

Recipients for 2024 are Ruth Riesenman, of Indiana, award for Advancement Support; Omega Gamble, of Concord, NC, award for Affinity Services; Milady Lagunas, of Nottingham, Aspiring Alumni; and Tracy Settle, of Bradenton, FL, award for Regional Impact.

“IUP continues to enjoy its success in great part because of committed, passionate alumni like these recipients,” Interim Vice President of University Advancement Jennifer Dunsmore said.

“They say that volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they have the heart. These four individuals are a testament to that. With all they do in their communities for others, they still find the time to give so much back to the institution that remains so close to their hearts. We are truly grateful for their time and talents,” she said.

Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient Andrew Longacre, who earned bachelor’s degrees from IUP in both safety science and political science in 2018 and an MBA in 2019, was the breakfast keynote speaker.

Longacre, originally from Danielsville, was a student trustee at IUP, a senior senator, vice chairman of the University Senate, finance committee member and board treasurer for the Student Cooperative Association Board of Directors, and a founding father of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He was also a member of the IUP Ambassadors, Student Government Association, IUP Safety Sciences American Society of Safety Engineers student section, and was on the track and field team.

He is the president and CEO of Millennium Family of Companies of Canonsburg.

He continues his strong affiliation with IUP, serving as a member of the Foundation for IUP Board of Directors, and participating on alumni speaker panels. In memory of his friend and former IUP trustee, Gealy Wallwork, he established the Wallwork Memorial Scholarship Endowment to provide support to IUP students.

Award for Excellence in Volunteer Leadership for Advancement Support

Interim Vice President for University Advancement Jennifer Dunsmore; Ruth Riesenman; IUP President Michael Driscoll

Ruth Riesenman

The Advancement Support Award recognizes alumni who continually inspire others to give back their time and treasure to advance IUP.

Riesenman is a 1964 bachelor’s degree in social studies education graduate. She has worked in the field of education since 1968, joining the Indiana and IUP community in 1979 as the associate director of the Office of Career Services (now Career and Professional Development Office), eventually named as director of the office. While in that role, she completed her doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Pittsburgh.

Following her tenure in the Career Services Office, she was selected to serve as executive assistant to the president, during which time she also served as interim vice president for Institutional Advancement and executive director of the Foundation for IUP for one and a half years, eventually retiring from IUP as the executive assistant to the President. In 2007, she was honored with the IUP President’s Medal of Distinction.

As a strong advocate for IUP and its students, she supports University Advancement by attending events, engaging with alumni, and supporting students both philanthropically and as a mentor. She formerly served on the Foundation for IUP Board of Directors and is currently on an advancement council.

She is also active in the Indiana community as a long-time member of the Alice Paul House Board of Directors and is an Indiana County ATHENA recipient.

Outstanding Volunteer Leadership in Affinity Services

Omega Gamble (unable to attend)

Omega Gamble

The Affinity Services Award recognizes a volunteer who engages alumni through reunions, departmental, and or college activities.

Gamble earned her bachelor’s degree in human resource management at IUP in 2008. As a student, she worked as a community assistant in the Office of Housing and Residence Life, was the lead student office assistant in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, and served as a student orientation leader. A member and former vice president of the IUP Ambassadors, she served on the 2005 search committee for the vice president for Institutional Advancement and was selected to deliver remarks for the university’s 2006 September 11 remembrance.

She joined the IUP Black Experience Alumni Committee soon after its founding in 2020 and is the secretary for the group. BEAC was formed with the goal of connecting with and advocating for Black students at IUP.

Gamble chaired the planning committee for the Inaugural BEAC Weekend in 2023, which drew more than 70 alumni and friends for the event, which included a roundtable discussion, a stroll competition (for both students and alumni), and a gala to create awareness of the African American Alumni Scholarship, raising $2,300 for the fund.

Gamble is a service representative with the Social Security Administration.

Aspiring Alumnus/Alumna Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award

Interim Vice President for University Advancement Jennifer Dunsmore; Milady Lagunas; IUP President Michael Driscoll

Milady Lagunas

The Aspiring Alumni Award recognizes outstanding initiative by a graduating senior working to inspire students to be active in the life of the university.

Lagunas will graduate in May with a political science major and sustainability studies minor. Born in Mexico and raised in Kennett Square, she is extremely active in many IUP organizations, including as a Promising Scholar and an IUP Crimson Guide, and is the former president of the IUP Ambassadors student-alumni association.

She is a member and former vice president of the Latino Student Organization, a former executive board member of the Cook Honors College, and has recently been asked to serve on a committee to create a Student Organization Guidebook.

As a student, she has made diversity and inclusion a priority. She coordinated the 2022 Unity Ball; was the founder of the Para La Cultura Series (For the Culture), a discussion of topics about the Latino culture; and served as a Latino Exploration Day coordinator. This role involved hosting more than 50 prospective Latino students from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas on campus for two nights and three days, planning an array of activities for them, coordinating a group of more than 15 volunteers, and reading and choosing winning scholarship essays. Many of these students are from low-income households and immigrant families, as well as first-generation college students.

Award for Excellence in Volunteer Leadership for Regional Impact

Interim Vice President for University Advancement Jennifer Dunsmore; Tracy Settle; IUP President Michael Driscoll

Tracy Settle

The Regional Impact Award recognizes a volunteer who champions IUP in their region by engaging alumni through events, supporting recruitment efforts, or providing internship or employment opportunities.

Settle is a 1980 graduate from the Eberly College of Business and a 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. While at IUP, he was a member of the University Concert Committee, Ski Club, Cross Country, Baseball, ROTC, and the Toesuckers Athletic and Social Club, which returns to campus every other year for a reunion, which he helps to plan.

He is a past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and was a member of the National Campaign Cabinet for the Imagine Unlimited Campaign, the former College of Health and Human Services Advancement Council, and the Tampa, Florida, Advancement Council. He is the founder of the IUP Global Engagement Scholarship Fund.

This past year, he has reorganized and reimagined the IUP Regional Alumni Ambassador Program, including managing alumni ambassadors in Florida and in multiple states and cities. He assists with recruitment, training, and program development, as well as hosting events in his own region. With his help, IUP has 16 additional regional ambassadors serving in 12 cities and five states.

Settle has more than 27 years of military service as an officer, commander, and program manager and was the director of the National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. He has also been a successful entrepreneur for many businesses ranging from a $1-million fitness center to a 650-head bison herd operation. His awards and honors include the Department of Defense Legion of Merit, the highest military award.