Leaders of leaders
| Marcus Clem editor in chief |
Perhaps the clearest path to one of the highest honors a student can earn begins with a childhood in the university’s backyard.
Nick Popejoy, a major in early/late childhood education and this year’s Outstanding Senior man, says growing up in Arma made his choice of Pittsburg State for college a certainty.
“I have loved Pitt State forever,” he said. “To have my career end on such a high note here means a lot. I was in shock to be recognized this way.”
His elementary ties to campus drove the loyalty and involvement that Popejoy attributes as key reasons for his success.
“When people talk about my time here, they’ll know that my passion for whatever I was doing is what really fueled the rest of the group. I think people will see that I never gave up on the hardest task and really took things on.”
Popejoy has represented the university on a day-to-day basis as a university ambassador and a Pitt CARES leader.
“I’ve given countless tours over the years, representing the university like that is what I’ve enjoyed the most.”
Even with a plaque on the flagpole in front of Russ Hall and an honor that will make his resume leap to the top of the pile, he says he does have some uncertainty about the future and the new challenges it will bring.
“The unknowns lie ahead,” he said. “Before, we’ve always known what’s coming in the next semester. Now we don’t. But that’s exciting for me. There’s a new adventure every day.”
Herder: ‘Is this real?’
When Steve Scott, university president, called Kaitlyn Herder’s name as this year’s Outstanding Senior woman, she was overwhelmed, certain it was a fantasy. Even now, with the honor she has sought for four years in hand, it still seems like a dream to her.
“I thought, ‘Is this real?’” she said. “I’ve known most of the other nominees really well since freshman year, and all of the things they’ve done, so I just couldn’t believe it.”
Herder was honored for her all-in approach to student involvement, engaged in everything from student government, to Gorillas in Your Midst (GIYM), to high achievements in her marketing and Spanish studies and much more.
“There’s so many things that I’ve wanted to do,” she said. “I can honestly say that everything I have thought of, I have been able to do.”
Somehow, she still feels like more could have been done, noting that it would have been good to be able to start her own organization from scratch, akin to the Gorilla Assistance Pantry that will open its doors in Whitesitt Hall this fall.
However, she says she’s proud in having build GIYM into what it is today, raising the resources needed to net high recognition for the organization’s “Do the Gorilla Thing” program, a focus of Herder’s efforts. In 2013, GIYM traveled to Reston, Va., and was honored with the Outstanding Prevention Program Award at the BACCHUS National General Assembly conference.
“We got to present at the national level,” she said, “and get Pittsburg State’s name out there.”