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University Honors program students honored as 2008 undergraduate man and woman of the year


BLACKSBURG, Va., April 21, 2008 – Virginia Tech has named two University Honors program students 2008 Undergraduate Woman of the Year and Undergraduate Man of the Year. These honors are among the most prestigious student awards given to Virginia Tech undergraduate students.

Kaitlyn N. Hercik of Oakton, Va., a University Honors program student and senior majoring in psychology in the College of Science and Ryan C. Smith of Hardyville, Va., a University Honors program student and senior triple majoring in psychology in the College of Science, sociology, and political science both of which are in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences have been selected respectively as Virginia Tech’s 2008 Undergraduate Woman of the Year and Undergraduate Man of the Year.

Both students exemplify the university motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), through their balanced achievement in scholarship, service, and commitment to the university community.

During her time at Virginia Tech, Hercik co-founded the Best Buddies chapter at Virginia Tech. Best Buddies is an international organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. Hercik has spent time serving both the campus community and the Blacksburg community.

Through Hercik’s organizational skills she has helped to successfully plan and carry out the annual Trick-or-Trick event at Oak Lane, a special housing community for Fraternity and Sorority Life members. The annual event provides a safe alternative for local parents to bring their elementary school-aged children to collect candy, play games, and walk through “haunted houses.” Hercik has an in-major grade point average of 4.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and is a member of several honors programs including, Psi Chi, the national honors society in psychology; the Golden Keys, an international honors program; and the Order of Omega, a Greek honors program. Hercik also actively participates in the Infant Perception Laboratory at Virginia Tech as an undergraduate researcher.

Robin Panneton, associate professor and director of the developmental and biological psychology program at Virginia Tech said of Hercik, “she is smart, quick to learn new things, articulate, and willing to get involved in all aspects of what the work involves.”

During his time at Virginia Tech, Smith has served as the undergraduate representative to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. Smith has also served communities outside of Blacksburg, including research he has conducted on the efficiency of prom safety programs. The information he gained through his research has helped eight different high schools throughout Virginia in creating safer prom environments for their students. Academically, Smith has a 3.88 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and has received honors and awards for his achievements. He has also worked as a researcher for the Center for Applied Behavior Systems at Virginia Tech where he has co-authored 11 convention presentations and is the senior author for eight research documents.

Steve Clark, director of the Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, a unit within the Division of Student Affairs said, “while a passion and need for rightness like Ryan’s is difficult to find in many students, even rarer is his ability to turn his passion into results.”

Hercik and Smith will be recognized as undergraduate woman and man of the year at the annual Student Alumni Banquet held in April 2008.