HGSAC Co-Chairs Recognized for Leadership During Challenging Academic Year

A pair of outgoing student leaders were lauded for their efforts to provide career resources and improvement opportunities to their fellow graduate students even as the University cancelled in-person events.

Dominika Dec Peevey and Amanda Van Buskirk

The Huck Institutes recently recognized Dominika Dec Peevey and Amanda Van Buskirk, who served as co-chairs of the Huck Graduate Student Advisory Committee, for their leadership during the 2019-2020 Academic year.

The two second-year Ecology students were presented with awards for outstanding student leadership by Dr. Troy Ott, Associate Director for Graduate Education, and Graduate Program Coordinator Dana Coval-Dinant.

This past year was the first time the position of HGSAC chair, which also serves as Graduate Adviser to the Huck Institutes, has been shared by two students. That decision would come to prove an inspired idea as the global COVID-19 pandemic threw the committee's plans—including workshops, guest speakers, and the annual Life Sciences Symposium, for which $12,000 had been raised—into disarray.

"Nothing could have prepared us for the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on university functions," said Ott. "However, I was so pleased with the focus and professionalism exhibited by Dominka, Amanda and other members of the HGSAC as they navigated through this crisis. Amanda and Dominika showed exceptional poise and resilience during this difficult year."

Despite the unique obstacles thrown up during their term of service, the outgoing chairs seemed to regard the year as a positive experience—even if it was something of a crash course in crisis management.

"I feel honored to be recognized by the Huck leadership," said Van Buskirk. "This year has been a challenge for students, faculty, and staff alike. It was a pleasure to be a Co-Chair of the HGSAC as we worked together to best represent the needs of the graduate student community. I am honored that Huck leadership recognized the hard work and dedication of myself and of the committee."

Van Buskirk graduated Penn State with her Master's in Ecology at the end of the school year, and will pursue a PhD at the University of Georgia, studying structured decision making with regards to deer management. Dec Peevey is continuing her pursuit of a PhD in Ecology at Penn State.