Student-Athlete Jack Perna Recognized with Scholarship

by Kelly Clisham
photo of jack perna taken with stark learning center in the background

Some people might say that Jack Perna skated his way to success since coming to Wilkes. The junior mechanical engineering has made it look easy, earning a 4.0 grade-point average while playing goaltender for the Colonels Men’s Hockey Team.

His hard work and discipline have enabled him to succeed. His faculty mentors, Carole Baddour, associate professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean of the College of Business and Engineering, says, “Jack has a strong work ethic that has led to his achievements, in and outside of the classroom. He took two of my classes during his sophomore year, and from the beginning, it was clear that he took his studies seriously. He consistently engaged in class and demonstrated great attention to detail.”

Perna recently was recognized with a $500 scholarship awarded by the Philadelphia Section of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE).  Baddour recommended him for the scholarship, writing in her nomination letter, “Beyond academics, I have always found Jack to be unfailingly patient and courteous to the people around him…. He embraces challenges, seeking rather than avoiding them and then rises to meet them. He is happy to help others and capable of independent as well as team-oriented research.”

Perna says that personal attention from faculty like Baddour and his advisor, Prahlad Murthy, professor of civil and environmental engineering, have helped him to succeed in a challenging major. The campus culture at Wilkes is another plus.

“I really like it here. I like the size of it. It allows you to have a relationship with your professors,” Perna says. “You can get all the resources you need. I also like small class sizes because you really get to know and collaborate with your classmates. I feel like it’s really conducive to learning.”

The close-knit community at Wilkes was a good fit for Perna after growing up in the small town of Sykesville, Maryland. The fact that the University has an intercollegiate hockey team was another plus. While researching universities where he could play while studying mechanical engineering, Wilkes quickly rose to the top of the list.

Perna explains that he came late to hockey, beginning at 14 after playing baseball most of his life. He took three gap years after high school to play junior hockey in Georgia and North Carolina to prepare to compete at the collegiate level. Since coming to Wilkes, he counts seeing the team win the MAC championship during his freshmen year as a highlight.

His interest in mechanical engineering was kindled after spending time in the machine shop that his father manages. Watching machinists translate designs into real products has informed how he approaches his major. “The machinists are making the parts. They know how to save time and money. They may tell you, ‘If you designed it this way, it would have been way easier.’ Seeing that gives you an insight into helping to design products,” he says.

Perna says that he’s aware of how quickly his time in the classroom and on the ice is passing, and he wants to make the most of the rest of his time at a place that continues to exceed his expectations. “I’m really glad I came here,” he reflects. “I couldn’t really ask for more.”

You may also like