Anna Yankanich

Merchandise Director

4rd Year Student
Hometown: York, PA
Majors: Supply Chain & Information Systems

Previous THON™ Involvement

THON 2021: OPPerations Committee Member
THON 2022: Donor and Alumni Relations Alumni Engagement Captain
THON 2023: Alumni Engagement Director

Why did you want to become a director for the largest student-run philanthropy in the world?

I wanted to serve as a director for THON 2024 so I could give back to an organization that continues to make such an incredible impact in the lives of families affected by childhood cancer. I also wanted to take strides to help grow the organization and spread awareness on a large scale. As the Merchandise Director I have the opportunity to support both the emotional and financial support sides of our mission and I could not be more excited to help make a difference in a new way. Enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer is truthfully my passion. The impact THON has made on my life is beyond measure, and I wanted to aid in its development to touch as many lives as possible. I believe in this community, and I believe in this mission. I wanted to serve as member of the Executive Committee of the largest student-run philanthropy in the world to empower the THON Community and get us closer to the day we dance in celebration of a cure.

What are your main responsibilities as a Director for THON 2024?

As the Merchandise Director, my primary responsibilities include overseeing the smooth operations of the in-person and online THON Store, leading a team of 20 captains and over 50 committee members, and ensuring all volunteers are equipped and easily identifiable at pre-THON events and THON Weekend. It is the Merchandise Committee's mission to spread awareness in a physical space, and that would not be possible without all of our incredible volunteers.

What is your favorite THON memory?

I’m not sure I can choose just one favorite memory, but one really impactful moment from the past year for me was Pep Rally during THON Weekend 2023. My committee had just finished distributing shirts to create the “White Out” and I took a second to look around. I saw our volunteers confidently executing their responsibilities to make the event run smoothly, organization members and spectators creating an incredible atmosphere, and our families enjoying the moment and creating memories. For me, it was a culmination of a year spent getting to that point where the THON Community was empowered and ready to make a difference. It really puts into perspective just how many people it takes to make our events possible and create such a large impact. In 2024, I want to do everything I can to get our community to that point again.

As a director, what are you most looking forward to for THON 2024?

I am really looking forward to trying something new and seeing this organization from a completely different angle than I have in the past. I have never been on the Merchandise Committee before, but I am excited to take my past experience and lessons learned and apply them to this role to hopefully make an impact for years to come.

If you could give your high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

As cliche as it might be I would tell my past self to live in the moment a little more. I have always been a planner and someone who is constantly thinking about next steps. I tend to forget to make the most of the present. "Life becomes more meaningful when you realize the simple fact that you’ll never get the same moment twice." I heard this quote pretty early on in my time at Penn State and it has served as a great reminder to be ambitious and plan ahead, but also enjoy every moment while I can.

What are you involved in outside of being a THON™ Director?

Schreyer Honors College, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Co-Ed Business Fraternity

What are your plans after graduation from Penn State?

After graduation, I hope to work for an organization that allows me to use my degree and technical knowledge to positively impact the lives of others.

Who is your role model? Why?

I have always greatly admired Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her incredible devotion to her family and the people she served is something I can only hope to emulate in my own life.

What Disney character do you identify with the most? Why?

I would probably say Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Growing up she was always my favorite character and her curiosity and courage to try new things really resonated with me. I was also a competitive swimmer for many years and love all things beach and ocean-related which is another reason I identify with Ariel so much!

What is one thing you think everyone should try at least once?

If possible, I think everyone should travel outside the country at least once. You learn so much about other people, the world around us, and yourself from traveling. Be curious, go explore, and make some memories!