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Clarion University of Pennsylvania


Clarion University of Pennsylvania

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Alizah Thornton

Harrisburg, Pa.

Alizah Thornton
Clarion University afforded me the ability to practice what I learned in the classroom through hands-on, pre-professional experience.
When spring semester ends and summer begins, most students plan to relax and let loose, but senior Alizah Thornton of Harrisburg traded poolside barbecues and late-night bonfires for legislative meetings and policy research.
She was the first Clarion University student to intern with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
The APSCUF summer internship combines public relations and government work. As a communication major, Thornton felt comfortable with the public relations side of things, but she wasn't sure what to expect of the government aspect.
"I was nervous at first. It felt like there was a lot of pressure on me to get the job done correctly," said Thornton. "I was timid and shy for the first couple of weeks, but after the third week I got comfortable."
Thornton, the news editor for the Clarion Call, cited her experience with writing and organization as leading factors in her success at APSCUF.
“As the news editor for the university’s student-run newspaper, I was able to practice and develop the skills necessary to become a successful team member in a professional work environment,” she said. “The writing and interviewing skills I’ve gained, along with the guidance I received from my professors, allowed me to feel comfortable and confident in my decision to apply for the APSCUF internship.”
"Alizah was years beyond her time in the level of depth and commitment she could take to a project," said Laura Saccente, APSCUF's associate director of government relations. "She generated new ideas for research that our staff took examples from. She always yearned for more insight and understanding of complex issues."
Thornton says one of the biggest lessons of the internship was simply learning that she could do the job. Thornton wanted to explore new interests in public relations and found success in doing so.

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The picturesque town of Clarion (population 6,200), with nearby outdoor recreational areas, including Cook Forest State Park, is recognized for its quality of life. Clarion's historic Main Street is lined with old-fashioned street lamps creating a nostalgic setting for downtown shopping.  The town is located on the hills overlooking the “Wild and Scenic” Clarion River and is known as the “Autumn Leaf Capital of the World.” The festival, known simply as “ALF,” is an annual, weeklong festival that takes place in early October, featuring a carnival, an arts and craft fair, concessions and pageant.  ALF coincides with the university’s Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.  In addition to ALF, nearby communities host a variety of events throughout the year honoring Smucker's peanut butter, Irish heritage, wildflowers, horse thieves, river running and an annual festival of trees. The area offers canoeing, kayaking, tubing, hiking and biking trails along with 7,000 acres of woodlands.


With a little more than 6,500students, Clarion offers world-class academic challenges and the kind of support and personal attention that allows students to thrive.  There is a 19-to-1 student faculty ratio and more than 130 student organizations from which students may choose.  Founded in 1867, Clarion University has strong connections in the community and throughout the region and makes sure those connections benefit its students.  While the majority of Clarion’s students come from Pennsylvania, there are students from 45 U.S. states and 31 countries enrolled at Clarion.  Students live on campus or in nearby college-owned or affiliated housing. New students may choose to live in suite-style residences, apartment housing or traditional residence halls.  There also is a wide assortment of dining options, including the campus dining facility, food court, and cafes.  Clarion is an NCAA Division II school for men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports (Division I in wrestling). Eighty percent of our students receive financial aid in some form, and we have a variety of loan and scholarship programs available.

Most Popular Programs

​Biology, business, communications, teacher education and nursing.

Highlighted Programs

Early Childhood/Special Education – Clarion University’s College of Education and Human Services offers a program of study that gives students who are interested in working with students with special needs dual certification in special education and early childhood education. Candidates completing this program are qualified to teach in special education programs (K-8) and early childhood programs (from pre-K to grade four), as well as in special education infant stimulation and pre-school programs.  Many employment opportunities exist in the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the country in pre-school and K-8 special education programs, which is one reason for the program’s increasing popularity. Clarion University is one of few programs in Pennsylvania that provides a dual certification program with only 126 credits required.

Communication – Clarion University’s Department of Communication offers students a blend of broad-based communication and writing skills, while studying in specialty areas such as advertising, broadcasting, communication studies, corporate communication, film, journalism and public relations.  Students receive hands-on experience while working as part of student media organizations, including WCUB-TV, WCUC-FM, The Clarion Call newspaper, and various student magazines.  In addition to the Communication undergraduate program, the department offers an online master’s degree in Mass Media Arts and Journalism.  There is also a communication concentration in the online B.S. in Liberal Studies program and an online Graduate Certificate in Public Relations.


Intercollegiate Athletics

Men’s – Baseball, basketball, football, golf, swimming and diving and wrestling (Division I).

Women’s – Basketball, golf, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field and volleyball.