As we began last semester by featuring the Overall Hospitality Chairperson, John Mazzochette, and Blue Band member, Shane Haydt, we are helping you get to know engineering students who are spending their time making the world a better place in their everyday life outside of the classroom. Next up is the Overall OPPerations Chairperson for THON 2103: Michelle Gettle.
Michelle is a fifth year senior in the structures option of civil engineering and knew since high school that she wanted to get into project or construction management. “Every type of construction site I saw interested me,” says Gettle. “The best route I saw to get there was through civil engineering.” She is also getting a minor in energy, business and finance.
Originally from Dillsburg, Pa., Gettle got involved with THON her freshman year through Ohana, which is an independent fundraising organization, while also being on the OPPerations committee. Since then, she was an OPPerations captain for two years and then became the Overall OPPerations Chairperson for THON 2103.
As the OPP Overall, Gettle says that event planning, logistics, and event management are huge rules that she takes on along with the other overalls and the OPPerations captains. She says that THON and her involvement in it will benefit her in many ways. “I can apply my management and planning skills to project management roles in the future,” explains Gettle. “I can also apply my leadership skills to all aspects of teamwork that occur in the workforce.”
Her favorite THON memory comes with the 40th year celebration of the Four Diamonds Fund. The fund was created by Charles and Irma Millard in honor of their son Christopher who lost his battle to rhabdomyosarcoma in 1972 at the age of 14. The story of the Four Diamonds, which is what the fund is named after, consists of a knight going on a quest to find the Four Diamonds of Courage, Honesty, Wisdom and Strength in order for him to be released from captivity of an evil sorceress. These are the four traits that Christopher believed he needed to overcome cancer.
“During the celebration, Irma Millard expressed her sincerest thanks to us for all that we do and it absolutely blew me away,” says Gettle. “They are the ones who deserve the gratitude.” She also went on to say that it is amazing that something the Millards created 40 years ago grew into something so immensely wonderful that has changed the lives of hundreds of people.
“That moment will forever be engrained in my memory and my heart and I am so blessed to have experienced it.”
Gettle with the 2013 OPPerations Captains
As an engineer, Gettle believes that courage is the most important of the four diamonds for an engineer to have. “You have to be willing to share your ideas and take initiative when needed,” says Gettle. “I think improvement and progress couldn’t occur without courage and within a growing industry, it becomes an essential trait that engineers should possess.
Gettle is most looking forward to THON weekend and seeing the entire THON family coming together as one for one cause. She also says her favorite part of THON is the journey, every day and every moment leading up to THON provides something new and inspirational that should be cherished.
Balancing her school work with extra-curricular activities is no simple task for any student at Penn State.
“Passion is something that gets me through everything that I do,” says Gettle. ” You have to possess a love for all of the things you pursue in life in order to make it work in the best way possible.” Gettle admits that sometimes things get tough but says she loves THON, her major, friends and family.
“I can’t help but be thankful for all of the opportunities I have been blessed with.”