Kochel Award Winner Encourages Students to 'Scream Their Stories'

Stacy Rabat was this year's winner of the Irvin H. Kochel Award.When Stacy Rabat was a junior in high school, her father, Khalil Rabat, suffered a heart attack, went into a coma, and died.

The experience devastated Rabat, but she says it has taught her how precious life can be and to think before judging others. Because of her experience, she yearns to connect with other people and hear their stories.

That’s why Rabat, a sophomore marketing major at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and this year’s winner of the Irvin H. Kochel Award, and another Penn State student, Rachael Hazen, have entered into a venture titled Scream Your Story. The two are working to create a blog or website that provides an outlet for people to share their personal stories and experiences.

“You can be sitting in a room with someone and have no idea what that person has gone through,” says Rabat, who received the award at Penn State Behrend’s sixty-fifth annual Honors and Awards Convocation on April 27. “It’s good to take a step back and realize that not everyone is going through the same things you are, and you don’t want to be judgmental.”

The website is still in its infancy, but Rabat, an Erie native, hopes to work on it extensively this summer and into the fall semester. Hazen, who spent the previous two years at Penn State Behrend, plans to work on it from University Park, where she’s enrolled for the fall.

“We want to ask people what hardships they’ve been through, and we want them to send in their stories,” Rabat says.

Rabat says she expects the blog to grow significantly and also plans to start including videos.

Rabat’s drive is indicative of the type of student who generally receives the Irvin H. Kochel Award, which is presented annually to an outstanding student who demonstrates qualities of character, scholarship, leadership, and citizenship through their involvement in programs and services that positively influence fellow students and the college community.

In her time at Penn State Behrend, Rabat has served as the local chair of THON and is a member of the Student Government Association, the Lambda Sigma national honor society, and a former member of the Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority. Rabat attributes much of her success to her own unique story.

Her father also remains a motivating force in her life.

“He was my best friend,” she says. “I think of him every day.”