The Office of Student Life presents the Extraordinary Leader award to outstanding students each month. According to Gail Tuttle, vice president for student life, the entire HPU community – students, faculty and staff, make nominations, and the nominees are asked to complete an online survey about their academic, social and charitable involvement on campus and in the community. A committee of HPU administrators selects the students who embody true leadership.
October’s Extraordinary Leader, junior education major Jessica Strickler, came to HPU ready for a college experience that went beyond learning in a classroom.
She has made the Dean’s List every semester, is a Presidential Scholar, Supplementary Instructor, a member of Kappa Delta Pi, Young/College Life, a writer for The Campus Chronicle and president of the Peer Mentor program.
Off campus, Strickler volunteers at Johnson Street Global Studies in a 6th grade classroom through a service learning class in the School of Education. She works with student groups doing guided reading, facilitating discussions, leading presentations and assisting projects.
She is an active member of the HPU community as well, serving in any way she can predominantly through tutoring and as a Peer Mentor. She finds the most joy by connecting directly with fellow students, whether it’s through assisting first-year students in their transitions to HPU or helping a student study for an exam. The Peer Mentor program connects every first-year student with a sophomore, junior, or senior volunteer to assist with the transition and serve as a familiar face before they even step on campus. Activities are provided throughout the year to keep the new students engaged and connected.
“In any situation, I do what I can to support and lend a hand. Some of these moments come through my job as a tutor, helping students understand and feel confident about the course material. As a tutor, the highlight is not getting my paycheck; it’s when a student sees me on the sidewalk on a Friday night and runs over to tell me, ‘I got a 92 on the test! There is no way I could have done that without you!’”
For Strickler, a college education is about more than just academics, and her role in leading the Peer Mentor program this year has been especially rewarding.
“The Peer Mentor program is the second largest, non-Greek organization on campus with more than 90 mentors this year. We do our best to help them succeed by answering any of their questions, offering advice and listening to their concerns.”
Strickler feels she has made a lasting impact as a mentor, because she sees the students getting involved, making smart decisions regarding their academic futures and coming to her with questions.
“My favorite aspect of the program is staying in contact with the students in my group beyond their first year at HPU. Many of them still reach out to me for advice and support and stop to chat when we see each other around campus. It truly creates a connection between students on campus.”
It is because of that joy and fulfillment she finds in helping others that she hopes to teach after graduation in an at-risk school. This will allow her to build skills and knowledge that will lead to her dream job, working for a nonprofit called The Harlem Children’s Zone. The nonprofit is a community-based organization that serves 17,000 children in order to end generational poverty through education.