Honoring the dedication of our Suzanne C. DeTuerk Teen Volunteer Scholarship recipients

July 16, 2020
8 min read


Thank you to all of our volunteers at Mount Nittany Health for their dedication and service to our patients, community and team.

Mount Nittany Health Foundation is honored to announce this year’s recipients of the Suzanne C. DeTuerk Teen Volunteer Scholarship Award. The award is made possible by a lead gift to the scholarship fund, forming an endowment, from Jim DeTuerk in honor of his late wife, Suzanne, naming the endowment the Suzanne C. DeTuerk Teen Volunteer Scholarship Award. “My wife was always passionate about volunteering and helping others,” shared DeTuerk. “Suzanne worked at Mount Nittany Health as the director of volunteer services for over 25 years, and I am proud to support the volunteer program in her name.”

To receive the award, students must be graduating from a local high school, complete a minimum of 200 hours of distinguished volunteer service with Mount Nittany Health, and be pursuing a career in healthcare from an accredited institution.

This year’s winners are Mishika Mehta and Parisa Solaimanian.

Mishika Mehta began volunteering at Mount Nittany Health in September 2016, logging 253 hours to date. Mehta shared how her personal experience as a patient has inspired her to volunteer and pursue a career in healthcare.

“One day I got sick, losing my ability to walk, and everything changed,” shared Mehta. “It all started with a common infection, forcing me to recalibrate my life for a few days in a wheelchair. Headaches, dizziness, and nausea debilitated my entire body. I don’t know how it progressed so fast, and neither did the healthcare staff. Doctors were stumped, all the routine tests were normal, yet I was barely able to take two steps with pink ladybug slippers on my feet.”

Fortunately, Mehta recovered from the infection and is in good health today. During this difficult and confusing time, Mehta came across a friendly volunteer who brought a smile to her face. Mehta shared how “experiencing the kindness from the gentle courier who took me from the tests to my room” had motivated her to become a volunteer herself.

“As a freshman, I got the opportunity to volunteer at Mount Nittany Health, making it my goal to reciprocate the same kindness I received to everyone I interacted with,” shared Mehta.

“While volunteering at the hospital’s café or gift shop, not only did I have the privilege of meeting patients, their family members and hospital staff, but also experienced their joys and sorrows first hand,” she said. “Many times all I did was just listen, but maybe I was doing something right when patients felt comfortable sharing their personal stories with me. Every little experience and story taught me more about patient confidentiality, teamwork, compassion and empathy.”

Mehta’s experiences as a patient and a volunteer have inspired her to pursue a career in healthcare. Mehta has been accepted to the Honors College at the University of Pittsburgh and plans to pursue a major in neuroscience and pre-medicine.

Parisa Solaimanian has been volunteering at Mount Nittany Health since May 2011.

“Ever since I was little, I have always wished to become a healthcare provider. Throughout my school years, I immersed myself in various community service activities and courses that are aligned with my passion for medicine,” shared Solaimanian.

Solaimanian always had a passion for helping others. “When I started volunteering at the hospital in 7th grade, it was a dream come true,” said Solaimanian.  “I started volunteering at the Nittany Grill counter and helped the employees by taking orders, making food (and the best milkshakes!), serving food to hospital staff and patients, and cleaning the grill. Anytime a patient needed help with ordering or carrying food, I have always been willing to help.”

Solaimanian had the opportunity to volunteer on the patient floors as well. “I have transported healthcare devices to different hospital rooms and sterile processing, sent hospital files to employees in the Medical Records department, discharged patients, and more,” said Solaimanian. “I had the opportunity to communicate with different patients whom I would help discharge from the hospital, as well as with several healthcare providers about different matters.”

Solaimanian is appreciative for all that she has learned and experienced at Mount Nittany Health as a volunteer. “I am truly fortunate to have served the public at my local hospital, a place I wish to work at in the future; I enjoy communicating with staff, healthcare providers, and patients,” shared Solaimanian. The experience I have gained from volunteering at the hospital has been like no other, and I am beyond grateful to have had such an impactful and eye-opening experience.”

Solaimanian plans to major in biobehavioral health at The Pennsylvania State University with the goal of one day becoming a physician assistant or physician.

We extend a heartfelt thanks to these students and all of our valued volunteers who give their time and talents to make others’ days better. Each volunteer plays a key role in caring for the health and wellbeing of our community.  

While our volunteer services are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look forward to our volunteers re-joining our ranks to provide the highest quality experience for those we serve.

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