Schuylkill Speaks: Abby Morneau aims for a career in criminal justice

Schuylkill Speaks! Graduating Student graphic featuring recent graduate.
Credit: Penn State

Editor's note: This story is part of a series profiling exceptional members of Penn State Schuylkill’s graduating class. For more stories like Session's, visit

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. — Abby Morneau is a highly motivated individual who is passionate about making a positive impact in all aspects of her life. She committed herself to her studies in the criminal justice program and actively participated in various campus activities. Her time at Penn State Schuylkill has been well spent, and she concluded it with the honor of delivering the student address at the 2024 commencement ceremony on May 4. In her speech, she congratulated the graduating class for persevering through the challenges of learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing that this cohort is the first to have had their academic journey shaped by it.

Morneau expressed that Penn State Schuylkill has provided her with unforgettable experiences and meaningful connections, such as federal prison tours and forming bonds with faculty members. Morneau found herself drawn to instructors like Ronald Kelly, assistant teaching professor and program coordinator of criminal justice, whose teaching style and engaging approach grabbed her attention from day one. She said that it was impossible to feel boredom in his classes, as he was able to seamlessly weave videos and projects into a captivating learning environment. His hands on experiences and individualized attention left a profound impact on Morneau, solidifying her desire to pursue a career in the corrections field.

“Abby has excellent people skills, which have really aided her in developing lasting relationships with her fellow students and instructors,” Kelly said. “She is a model student who is always in class and actively participates in discussions. Ms. Morneau is a vital part of the college experience and a friend to all who know her.”

Beyond the classroom, Morneau embraced the vibrant campus community, cherishing the friendships made during events and activities. As a member of Lion Ambassadors and THON, Morneau recalls the joyous moments of dancing and laughter during open houses. Upon graduation, Morneau leaves with a deep appreciation for the supportive and inclusive atmosphere defined by her Penn State Schuylkill experience.

Q: What made you want to pursue a criminal justice degree and what was the most memorable part of the program for you?

Morneau: I decided to pursue criminal justice because I enjoy true crime podcasts and documentaries. It sounds funny, but I find it fascinating to watch how crimes are solved and how crime-solving techniques have evolved over the years. Additionally, I have many friends and family members in the criminal justice field, which also encouraged me to pursue this path.

One of the most memorable aspects of the program was the opportunities I had, such as visiting SCI Mahanoy and going on a trip to a federal prison, which allowed me to form connections. I also built close relationships with faculty who greatly supported me throughout the program.

Q: Why did you choose Penn State Schuylkill?

Morneau: The smaller campus size appealed to me because it offers smaller class sizes and more one-on-one interactions with professors, which makes me feel more seen and heard compared to a larger campus. Despite its size, we still have many opportunities available. Being close to home was also a benefit.

Q: Outside of academics, what was the most valuable lesson you learned?

Morneau: I believe the most valuable lesson I learned revolves around academics: don't give up when things get hard. This lesson stuck with me during times in college when I felt overwhelmed and wanted to give up, but I kept going. As a first-generation college student, I am proud to make my parents proud.

Q: What will you miss most about campus?

Morneau: What I'll miss most about campus are the people I met and all the fun events and opportunities. I will also really miss the welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Being a learning assistant, lion ambassador, and participating in open houses and speaking to prospective students, and getting involved with THON to raise money and make a difference were all memorable experiences.

Q: Do you have any advice from a commuter prospective? And what does balancing your time look like as a commuter?

Morneau: As a commuter, make sure you allow enough time to get to class every day and establish a set schedule for yourself. Balancing your time as a commuter involves planning a daily schedule that includes class times and dedicated study periods to stay on top of your coursework and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Even as a commuter, take advantage of the campus library and private study rooms!

Q: As a Penn State Schuylkill graduate, what advice would you give to an incoming student?

Morneau: Take advantage of the small campus size to build relationships with your professors. They're the people you want by your side, and they can provide references when it's time to graduate. Don't be afraid to ask for help, join clubs and make friendships. These connections can last a lifetime.

Savor your four years — they truly are the best and worth it in the end.