December 08, 2014 10:00AM
As a student at Garden City High School, Jaecy Hebrlee was not what she considers outgoing or overly involved.
“I didn’t have much confidence at all in high school,” she said. “I had little experience with leadership, and I didn’t feel comfortable getting involved in activities outside of the music department.”
To anyone who has known Hebrlee during her years as a Pittsburg State student, that’s probably hard to believe.
“Coming to Pitt turned everything around for me,” she said. “I found my voice here. I got involved. I met people who boosted me up and encouraged me to be more.”
Among the many things Hebrlee became was the recipient of NASPA Region IV West Undergraduate Rising Star Award, one of the highest honors given to undergraduate students by NASPA, whose full name is Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
NASPA is the one of the leading associations for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its Rising Star Award recognizes students for their involvement on campus and leadership skills.
Hebrlee, who will graduate from PSU this month with a degree in general studies, was nominated for the award by David Adams, former assistant director for campus activities at Pitt State.
“Jaecy impressed me with her passion, dedication and enthusiasm for the co-curricular aspect of the university and her intended pathway to a position in student affairs,” Adams wrote in the nomination letter.
Hebrlee, who will pursue a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas, said she was “extremely honored” by the award.
“It definitely means a lot to me because I never could have imagined this would be an award I could receive,” she said. “It’s an honor to be recognized for the time and effort I put into my years at PSU. Being a Gorilla is the experience of a lifetime.
“It’s bittersweet to be graduating and moving soon. I’m excited for the next chapter in my life, but I’ll always miss being at Pitt,” she said.
She’s not leaving without leaving her mark, however. As a passionate supporter of Greek life, Hebrlee successfully launched a new Greek leadership course on campus to promote cohesion and friendship among the university’s fraternities and sororities.
“I always felt that too many of our Greek members focused on the competition between the different organizations,” said Hebrlee, who is a member of the Eta Eta chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha. “I wanted us to focus on what binds us and how we can work together to accomplish our goals.”
Meagan Smejdir, PSU Greek adviser, said she was impressed with the effort and passion Hebrlee put into the new course.
“The class was wildly successful, and students are still banging down my door asking if they too can take the class,” Smejdir said. “They have seen the results in their fraternity brothers and sorority sisters.”
Along with her involvement in Greek life, Hebrlee was also a member of Crimson Club, a student organization that represents the Office of the President. She has also served as a University Ambassador, a role in which she gave many tours to prospective students and served as a group leader during the Pitt CARES freshmen orientation program.
Hebrlee officially received the Rising Star award during the NASPA Region IV-West Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., in November.