Tag Archives: Curtis Voelker

Overcoming adversity and leaving a legacy

Meet Curtis Voelker — Mr. Central Penn, and the ‘Next Big Thing’

By Sherri Long

Knightly News Reporter

A picturesque autumn scene of colorful trees, a cloud-dappled blue sky and the historic Henszy’s Bridge is framed by the lobby windows on the second floor of Central Penn College’s Advanced Technology Education Center.

This iconic backdrop was the perfect setting for interviewing Curtis Voelker, admissions counselor at Central Penn College, who is often referred to as “Mr. Central Penn.”   

Curtis Voelker, Mr. Central Penn, with his Standing Ovation Award, for "The Next Big Thing." Photo by Sarayuth Pinthong.

Curtis Voelker, Mr. Central Penn, with his Standing Ovation Award, for “The Next Big Thing.”      Photo by Sarayuth Pinthong.

The persona of Mr. Central Penn evolved from a creation of Voelker’s in 2010 that tied into a new marketing campaign for the college.

“Mr. Central Penn was originally Will Power, who hailed from the planet of Potential in the solar system of Success,” Voelker, 26, said.

Voelker is the presenter for the admissions team at Central Penn and is always thinking of creative ways to connect with potential students. He began is speaking career when he was a freshman in high school. At the request of the foster program he was in, he gave a presentation sharing his personal story of overcoming the adversity of his parents’ arrest, when he was 14.

We are family

Voelker was featured as part of a portrait series created by Uproot Creative Services that showcased the stories of people helping in their communities. Voelker’s personal story video is on Uproot’s site. Voelker continues to share his story during his presentations to connect with and encourage others.

Though his focus during high school visits is on recruiting students to attend Central Penn, it goes well beyond being a job for Voelker. He wants potential students to understand the sense of family that he has experienced at Central Penn since 2009.

“Central Penn brought that sense of family to me, brought that sense of belonging,” Voelker said. “No one else in my family went to college. I didn’t think college was an opportunity for me, and then I met Todd Milano (president in 2009), who kind of recruited me, brought me under his wing. So, I got these great mentors, these great father figures, great mother figures here on campus. They’ve done so much for me here and I just want to try to continue to do as much as I can for Central Penn.”

Encouraging students

In 2012, Voelker earned his bachelor’s degree for business and marketing and was immediately hired by Central Penn. He enjoys being able to use his degree every day through recruiting and presenting, and is proud of the fact that Central Penn takes a unique approach to presenting to high school students.

“We’re one of the only colleges that do in-class presentations. Most admissions teams do what they call guidance visits,” said Voelker.

Guidance visits are appointments scheduled with a guidance counselor and students. The students sign up to participate during that time. According to Voelker, these scheduled visits may have one, three or five students who participate.

Voelker’s approach is to contact a high school teacher to schedule a classroom presentation. The teacher selects a theme of either finding the right college, managing conflict, understanding diversity, or how to make a good first impression. Voelker prefers to present to English classes because they usually contain students in the same grade level.

He also presents to school clubs and organizations, Future Business Leaders of America being one of them. Voelker serves as the alumnus representative for the Pennsylvania Future Business Leaders of America board of directors. He has been involved with the FBLA since his high school days.

“Serving FBLA is kind of my passions all rolled into one through serving the club I was in during high school, then through serving Central Penn, and then serving the students by being a part of the board.”

Dancing with the Stars

Voelker started serving on the board of the East Pennsboro Education Foundation in March. One of his main functions is emceeing Dancing with the East Pennsboro Stars, which is an annual major fundraising event. The main purpose of the foundation is to raise funds for educational purposes for East Pennsboro School District.

“One of the biggest things we’ve done is help fund the new media club at East Penn. It includes things like video cameras, sound equipment, helping students express themselves in different ways, in various projects and papers, and things like that,” Voelker said.

Although not an official representative of the college on the Pennsylvania FBLA or East Pennsboro Education Foundation boards, Voelker said he “doesn’t know if there’s ever a time that I can’t find a way to connect it to Central Penn because that’s my goal; that’s my mindset.”

Central Penn Education Foundation

Voelker serves on the Central Penn Education Foundation as a trustee, a role he began while a current student. He was the first and only current student who was elected to the Education Foundation Board of Trustees and has served since December 2011. As a trustee, he helps select scholarship recipients and raise funds for those scholarships.

One way to encourage the newest alumni to give back to the foundation is through the purchase of a True Cord. These cords are worn by the students at graduation and have their graduation year as the purchase price. This year’s cost was $20.17.

“It’s a simple way to have them start to think ‘Hey, this is a way I can give back.’ It gives them a good feeling when they walk across the stage. Hopefully, that grows.”

Another role for Voelker, as a trustee, is helping with student engagement.

“With myself being a former student, and staff member, and alumni, I really try to help in terms of engaging student involvement,” he explained. “I’ve done a couple of fundraisers with students to help increase the thought of philanthropy and what it means to give back to the alma mater.”

Voelker encourages current students to get involved with events on campus and the community, taking leadership roles, and to work toward leaving a legacy. Voelker and Dillon Epler, associate residence life director at Central Penn, created and led the first Central Penn men’s leadership retreat.

Men’s leadership retreat

The theme for the retreat, held in August, was “A Legacy for Leadership.” The seven participating students identified personal and professional goals, then identified things they are involved in on campus or in the community.

After identifying these, they examined whether their activities were helping them achieve their goals. They discussed what they hoped to leave behind on campus with Central Penn, what legacy they wanted build for themselves, and the importance of leaving a legacy.

The college has had women’s retreats for the last three years, but this was the first men’s retreat. Voelker and Epler, who were housemates during their college days, were pleased with the response.

“This is one of the biggest things we’ve talked about, about wanting to just give back in this way, with leadership and mentorship,” said Voelker. “The group of guys were fantastic. They all took something away from it. They absolutely enjoyed it.”

Voelker, who believes in leading by example, was able to achieve one of his personal and professional goals in October.


On Sunday, Oct. 15, Voelker achieved his goal of giving a TED Talk at TEDxHarrisburg. The sold-out event featured 12 speakers and 100 people in the audience.

The process to be one of the 12 speakers began in May with 60 applicants. According to Voelker, the theme for this event was “Evolve.” The TEDxHarrisburg committee reviewed the applications and proposals, and chose around 25 people for the second round. The second round required a one- to two-minute speaking sample.

“From there they chose the top 12, and those were the top 12 who spoke at the actual event,” Voelker said. “My sample presentation was basically two minutes of my personal story and how I could motivate others.”

Voelker’s TEDxHarrisburg presentation was entitled “Evolve through Adversity.” He involved the audience by having them simulate “the storm of success” through tapping feet and snapping fingers. He has received many requests and questions about being able to watch his presentation online. TED released the videos of TEDxHarrisburg 2017 on Nov. 22. Now, those who could not attend the live event may view Voelker’s presentation on The TEDxHarrisburg Team’s YouTube channel.

Curtis, TEDx Harrisburg

Voelker, TED Talk presenter. Photos by Sherri Long.

Voelker, TED Talk presenter. Photos by Sherri Long.

Standing Ovation

2017 has been a year full of service, goal achievement and recognition for Voelker. On Oct. 20, Voelker was awarded the Central Penn Alumni Standing Ovation Award in “The Next Big Thing” category. Voelker was one of four alumni nominees in that category.   

Voelker as superhero in a panel presented at the Standing Ovation Awards in October. Photo courtesy Central Penn College.

Voelker as superhero in a panel presented at the Standing Ovation Awards in October.                        Photo courtesy Central Penn College.

The “Next Big Thing” award recognized “a graduate who stands out among peers for outstanding leadership and service prior to one’s tenth reunion year. Community service, professional accomplishments, and other significant achievements are considered,” according to the nomination flyer from the Central Penn Alumni Association.

Voelker paused, as he thought about what receiving the award meant to him.

“That meant a lot. It meant a lot because there were great nominees, across the board, for all of the different awards. I’m glad we did that because I don’t know if a lot of people realize the standout students that we have. Specifically, for myself, I appreciated the praise for the individual stuff that I did, but it’s really a team effort. It took all 25 nominees to get to where we (alumni) are today.”

Continued education

When asked about earning his master’s degree in organizational leadership, Voelker shook his head, laughed and said, “Crazy.” He explained his response.

“Just thinking back. Littlestown. My graduating high school class was 87 students. We had one traffic light in the entire town. No one else in my family went to college, and I remember thinking, when I started Central Penn going for my bachelor’s, ‘Could I do it? What will the classes be like? What is this experience going to be like?’ I went through it, had an amazing experience, and then thought ‘Okay. Let’s keep it going.’ And then I got my master’s, and was just, like, wow!”

He is considering going for his doctorate.

“My grandma is asking me about it all the time. She wants a doctor in the family. I’m still looking for the free time I thought I’d have after I was done with my master’s, though,” Voelker said, laughing.

PEZ dispensers

Voelker does have some free time, but not much during the busy fall season of visiting and presenting at high schools.

“Any free time that I do have I spend working out or hunting PEZ dispensers,” he said.

Voelker started collecting PEZ dispensers, again, in 2016. His original PEZ collection was started when his father gave him a couple PEZ dispensers, when Voelker was little.

“I had a huge collection up until age 12. I had a whole closetful of seven boxes, two full notebooks of inventory. I had some from Europe, from overseas, whole different kinds of PEZ dispensers. With my personal story, they eventually went away, so, I had to restart from scratch.”

The future

What’s next for Voelker?

“I think right now, I just want to continue doing what I do now, pretty well. I want to increase, obviously, alumni council’s reach and position. Definitely want to increase the foundation. So, maybe no new projects, yet,” Voelker said.

But, Voelker said he is always open to opportunity and looking for ways to give back, which is something that is at his core. Specifically, finding ways to benefit Central Penn and its students and alumni, because he views Central Penn as his home and family.

“When we all continue to help each other learn and grow, we’re continually helping each generation of Central Penn students get that much better of an experience.”

Sherri Long is president of the Knightly News Media Club @ Central Penn College.

To comment on this article, or to suggest one, contact TheKnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.
Edited by Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi, club co-adviser.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Alumni News, Central Penn College in the Community, On Campus Happenings

Men’s Leadership Retreat and Upcoming General Election Subjects of Podcast #39

By Paul Miller

Knightly News Co-Adviser

The Knightly News Media Club at Central Penn College is excited to release our most recent podcast, Episode #39, featuring Admissions Counselor Curtis Voelker discussing the recent Men’s Leadership Retreat and Associate Residence Life Director Dillon Epler talking about how students can get involved in the Nov. 7 general election.

During the first segment, Voelker is also joined by Knightly News Correspondent Daylin Davis, a student who attended the Men’s Leadership Retreat.

They discussed the event, held at Diakon Wilderness Center in Boiling Springs, PA, with the theme of “leaving a legacy at Central Penn”.

Davis noted, “As a leader (on the Knights Men’s Basketball team), I have to give the work ethic that my teammates demand…I have to set an example and set the tone on the team.”

Davis was also quick to note that this opportunity provided him with a great deal of experience that he will be able to use immediately, both on and off the court.

Voelker and Epler led the retreat, something that means a lot to both of the individuals on both a personal and professional level.

During the second segment of the show, Epler joined the podcast to discuss the upcoming general election on Nov. 7, as well as discussing what Central Penn College is doing to promote participation in the election for our students.

Epler noted that while this isn’t a presidential or midterm election, making important decisions about your state and local officials has a much clearer impact on our students.

The Office of Residence Life will also be distributing information about the candidates on the ballot, will offer a shuttle to take students to the polls, and has plans for an open-forum event prior to the election to educate the students about the process.

Those looking for more information about the upcoming ballot in their area can search the links below for more information.

Vote 411:  http://www.vote411.org

BallotPedia:  https://ballotpedia.org/Pennsylvania_elections,_2017


This episode can also be found on SoundCloud:  https://soundcloud.com/user-511685837/episode-39-curtis-voelker-and-dillon-epler

Leave a Comment

Filed under Central Penn College in the Community

The Knightly News Podcast Welcomes Curtis Voelker

Voelker discusses his passion for the Central Penn College family

By Paul Miller

Knightly News Co-Adviser

In our newest podcast, Episode #34, we welcome Admissions Counselor Curtis Voelker to the show to talk about the upcoming Young Alumni Happy Hour, his journey through his education at Central Penn, and his opportunity to speak with high school students about his hardships growing up.

The podcast is also joined by Knightly News President Sherri Long and a special guest appearance by former Knightly News Vice President Norman Geary.

Voelker has had a life of trials and tribulations, documented by Harrisburg-based Uproot Creative Services in their Portraits series.  His story can be seen here.

In the first segment with Voelker, he discusses his job as an admission counselor, often spending the fall and spring months traveling to high schools to recruit students and to discuss with him the hardships he has endured, cherishing the opportunity to impact the lives of young people.

In the second segment of the podcast, the group discusses the Central Penn College Education Foundation scholarships.

Voelker is a trustee of the Education Foundation and Long and Geary have both won different scholarships during their time at the college.

The discussion finally shifted to Voelker’s role as a member of the Alumni Council, discussing the upcoming Central Penn On Tap:  Young Alumni Happy Hour, taking place Aug. 16 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Public Fare at Weis Markets in Enola.

If you are interested in registering for the event, or for more information:  http://www.centralpenn.edu/about-central-penn/news-events-community/central-penn-on-tap-young-alumni/

The Knightly News would like to wish Voelker congratulations for his recent completion of his M.P.S. at Central Penn College.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Alumni News, On Campus Happenings

Research Exhibition Day

A Diverse Success

 By Norman Geary

Media Club Reporter

On June 6, the Central Penn Summerdale Campus hosted Research Exhibition Day, in the ATEC lobby, from 3-5 p.m.

For the exhibition, students created posters to visually represent research topics and answer questions presented by a panel of judges. The judges used a rating system based on the content and the visual quality of the posters.

Each poster had to reflect the topic of diversity.

Diverse purposes

The event was designed not only to educate students but to inform exhibition attendees about how each student’s poster reflected a topic related to that student’s major, and reflected diversity, organizers said.

“This day is a wonderful culmination of a lot of help from different departments,” Judith Dutill, Central Penn’s instructional design technologist, said.  “A real cross-campus collaboration.”

Dutill and Emily Reed, Central Penn’s research librarian, took the lead working with faculty the deans identified.

“The marketing and security departments also helped assist with materials for the event,” Library Director Diane Porterfield said. “We had additional help from faculty and admissions, and … career services, in our judging for the contest.”

A good showing

Eight posters were displayed at this event.

“Students with Physical Disabilities and Inclusion on College Campuses,” by occupational therapy assistant (OTA) students won first prize – and $100.

Students used the American Occupational Therapy Association website to find case studies about occupational therapy students who have a mental, physical or social disability, and evaluated their possible strengths and weaknesses in the workforce.

“We used EBSOhost to search, using key words to relate our topic to occupational therapy and diversity,” according to Jennifer Torelli, occupational therapy assistant major. “This project opened our eyes to accessibility on different college campuses and realized there is always room for improvement.”

Caitlin Cragle and Allison Miller, also OTA majors, agreed.

“Health Care Practitioners with Disabilities,” with OTA students Felicia Miller and Morgan Brubaker, won second place – and $75 – and the honor of Audience Favorite, plus $25 for that distinction.

OTA was well represented at the exhibition. Another poster/project was “Impact of Mental Health Disorders on Academic Performance,” which stated that anxiety and comorbid mental disorder leads to poor academic performance in all ages, races and other categories of students across their lifespan, as compared to individuals with no mental-health disorders.

“We looked at peer reviews and sources to find articles relating to anxiety disorders and their correlation to academic performance,” Sharon Pitcavage, OTA, said “We looked at possible treatments, such as occupational therapy treatment.  We learned more ways our future occupation can help others.”

Lauren Steo, OTA, assisted.

Another school perspective

Hangying Ni presented “School Culture: Do You Perceive It?” Ni’s presentation won third place, and $50.

School culture is a set of historically transmitted norms, values, beliefs, ceremonies and rituals. Ni’s research indicated that a positive school culture significantly improves students’ achievements.

“I chose this topic to explore (so that) if students don’t feel the same way as teachers and leaders do, leaders need to make a change for students to perceive school culture,” Ni, an organizational leadership student in the master of professional studies program, said.

The Knightly News presented this look at Buzzfeed.com and the diversity that their podcast team has.

The Knightly News presented this look at Buzzfeed.com and the diversity that their podcast team has. Design by Sherri Long.

Pieces in a pod

The Knightly News Media Club @ Central Penn College featured “Diversity in Podcasting.”  Club members’ goal was to educate viewers and impress the judges. Their poster showed that podcasting is an affordable way for communications students from any culture to launch careers in mass media.

With this research, the media club displayed in visual form how podcasting has made media accessible to people across cultures and how to use podcasting to launch their careers in media. They also presented information on starting a podcast series, as well as showing how affordable startup can be — only $600 to launch a podcast project.

Pumping up

Media Club President Christine Hoon presented “Get Your Red On,” providing information from the American Heart Association, such as why a large number of women are dying from heart disease. Hoon also represented the media club by assisting with the podcast project.

“Occupational Therapy Across Nations” was also presented.


Knightly News Media Club President Christine Hoon also presented her project on the “Get Your Red On” campaign.  Photo by Tyler Willis.

Judging by the reaction –

Judges reacted positively to the project presentations.

“I was impressed with the topics chosen by the students.  Many research topics related to their fields that they are studying,” judge Kristin Fike, Central Penn’s internship coordinator, said. “Their research will ultimately help make an impact in their fields. The time that they put into the exhibition was noticed.”

Dutill opened the competition to her Communications 450, Propaganda and Policy, class. Two of her students, Hoon and Yuliani Sutedjo, both communications majors and media club members, presented “Smoking Campaign Ad: Propaganda or Persuasion?” The poster presentation educated viewers on ads from smoking campaigns about how dangerous smoking is. The campaign was to encourage people to stop smoking.

“I was involved in the planning process and collecting resources,” Dutill said.   “Additionally, my COM450 class participated, and I think the event is a great opportunity for students to show their hard work.”

Judge Curtis Voelker, a Central Penn admissions counselor, added, “As a judge for Research Exhibition Day, it was inspiring to see the hard work, dedication, and passion each student brought to their specific topic presentations related to the theme of Diversity.”


Filed under On Campus Happenings

Discovery Day is a Success

It’s a Team Effort at Central Penn College

By Norman Geary

Media Club Reporter

Central Penn College recently had high school students on campus to see how students “Live the Knight Life” by visiting classes and  getting the scoop on the College’s programs.

The event is aptly named Discovery Day. It happened on Jan. 27.

Enrollment Events Coordinator Naydia Bonner and Admissions Counselor Curtis Voelker coordinated Discovery Day.

They sat down to talk to The Knightly News Media Club to speak about this important event.

What Bonner and Voelker had to say follows.

From Naydia Bonner

Knightly News: So, what is Discovery Day?

Bonner: Discovery Day is a student event where prospective students get to come on campus and get to shadow a current student and go to classes with them and get a feel of what the night life is like (and to be) a Central Penn student.

Knightly News: What are some of the benefits of participating in this event?

Bonner: They also get an opportunity to tour the campus and meet with faculty and (employees of the) Student Services (Department). They also get a tour, which includes viewing the housing and enjoy seeing the super suites (housing) as well.

Knightly News: Why is Discovery Day held?

Bonner: This is a great opportunity for these prospective students to get to know Central Penn. The purpose of Discovery Day is for these students to really find out if Central Penn is the right place for them.

From Curtis Voelker

Knightly News: Curtis, what is your role in Discovery Day?

Voelker: As an admissions counselor who also conducts presentations within local … high school classrooms, my job is to assist Naydia with Discovery Day by letting students know when it is, and getting the word out about the event.

Knightly News: What other support do you provide for these prospective students?

Voelker: So, within my presentation, there is only so much I can share and show through pictures. So getting students here for Discovery Day is really all about letting them experience a day and life as a Central Penn Knight. Once Discovery Day (is) here, I … assist Naydia with the admissions presentation, along with my coworker Tiffanie Falkenstein (senior admissions counselor), who is also a presenter with the admissions team.

Knightly News: In addition to your presentations, what do you do on Discovery Day to assist Naydia and the team?

Voelker: I also assist with campus tours, whether it be across campus, with housing or through the Underground – whatever it may be.   I also assist with any questions, comments, that students, parents – whoever – may be attending Discovery Day may have.

Perspectives from both

Knightly News: Talk a bit about planning Discovery Day.

Bonner: Planning begins months in advance. I start to prepare the agenda and reach out to the various departments that will be involved. I will speak to different students. I will speak to different student services. I will speak to (Cultural Diversity Director) Romeo (Azondekon), (Counselor) Megan Cline, (Residence Life Director) Megan Peterson, and (Writing Center Director) Dalton (James) … to make sure they are all on board, and they have it on the schedule.

Knightly News: Who else do you get involved in planning this event?

Bonner: We also promote this event to our students on campus as a volunteer opportunity. The students are offered four hours of community service for participating in the event. The way we target those students is with flyers on campus, as well as the club fairs at the beginning of each term. We get students to sign up at that event and they also have the opportunity to sign up at the Core (store in ATEC) or with me at my office.

Knightly News: How did Discovery Day unfold when it was held?

Voelker: Tiffanie Falkenstein and myself conducted the admissions presentation. Afterwards, I led the visiting parents for Discovery Day throughout a campus tour, where we got to see a different component of campus that their sons and daughters may be experiencing here as a Central Penn Knight. Later, we went back to the original room for a presentation on financial aid. We also met with Dean of Students Dave Baker, who shared some more information about what students will be experiencing here on campus. We then had a delicious lunch at the Knight and Day Café, and we wrapped up Discovery Day with a final tour of the super suites.

It seems that another successful Discovery Day has come and gone.  We at the Knightly News thank all of the people involved in making this event possible and look forward to the next Discovery Day.

Leave a Comment

Filed under On Campus Happenings