IST senior honored with Multicultural Resource Center's Resilient Student Award

Kylee McGuigan
May 07, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Zachary Dyer, a 2019 graduate of the College of Information Sciences and Technology, was recently awarded the Penn State Multicultural Resource Center’s Resilient Student Award, which is presented to a student who demonstrates initiative, perseverance, and the ability to overcome significant obstacles in obtaining his or her degree.

Zachary Dyer

Zachary Dyer is a 2019 graduate of the College of Information Sciences and Technology and recipient of the Multicultural Resource Center's Resilient Student Award.

IMAGE: Provided

“Zach is the type of student who wanted a better future for himself, and was willing to take any necessary measures to ask for help to become a more well-rounded student,” said Olivia Lewis, student advocacy specialist in the IST Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement, who nominated Dyer for the award.

“When I was told that I was going to be recommended [for the award], I appreciated it,” said Dyer. “I just work hard so that I can make it to the next level; I’m not looking to receive any praise. It brought a lot of joy to me to know that someone else, looking outside in, realized that I’m doing what I need to do and that I’m going somewhere.”

After starting at Penn State pursuing a degree in engineering, Dyer ultimately realized that wasn’t the path for him. During the spring semester of his sophomore year, he learned about IST and decided to explore it.

“[Two years ago] I sat in an IST 110 class to get a feel for IST,” Dyer said. “[Assistant teaching professor] Alison Murphy was going over some things about IST, and I realized some things: they want to help people, it’s all about technology, and there’s a coding aspect to it. All of that made me want to see what IST was all about.”

Around the same time, Dyer also discovered the Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement (OIDE) at the College of IST. He realized how much of an impact the office could have on the rest of his college career, and how willing they were to help.

“One of my friends encouraged me to go see Olivia Lewis,” Dyer said. “She outlined IST as a whole and told me what I could do with the major, as well as the courses I would need to take. The next time I got involved [with OIDE] was when I needed funds for my classes, such as books and case studies. I had to explain the situation to them, and they were able to provide me with the necessary help.”

Dyer’s transition into the College of IST was a smooth one, as he had already completed some of the courses that a student in the college would be required to take. Once he realized that he would have enough credits to not only change majors, but also to graduate on time, he knew he was making the right decision.

Aside from the academic aspect of his college experience, Dyer said that he enjoyed the individuals who make up the college community. He said that he had been surrounded by great people who made the past four years special.

“I did enjoy the social aspect,” Dyer said. “I would consider myself more introverted until you sit and get to know me, but I did make a lot of friends, I made a lot of connections, and I had a great time.”

These same people also helped shape Dyer into the person he is today. They have made a great impact on his life and have enabled him to become successful.

“Every interaction I’ve had — whether it was someone in a group, or someone I just met, or even an adviser — all have contributed to who I am now,” Dyer said. “If I needed help, I could reach out to any of them. Because I was willing to seek help, I was able to run into people who wanted to help and wanted to find solutions for me.”

The OIDE, in particular, had a tremendous impact on Dyer’s college experience. The staff and community there were always willing to help him and offered him advice when he may have been struggling with classes, or working to get an internship, he said.

“When I was first looking for internships, I went to OIDE because I didn’t know exactly what I had to do,” Dyer said. “They were the ones who provided me with all the resources — especially when it came to preparing for interviews. They also helped me figure out ways to pass the classes I had difficulties with, as well as helping to build connections with others. They told me to talk to certain people at certain meetings, or to even visit certain people with questions. They’ve always been willing to help and put me in touch with the right people.”

Looking back on the last four years, Dyer has realized that hard work can go a long way. He said having a strong support system can be a big help when it comes to getting things done and reaching an end goal.

“Anyone can accomplish any goal they want to accomplish, but it takes a lot of willpower,” Dyer said. “You have to find ways to keep moving forward. Having strength and power behind you, as well as motivation, you can keep going.”

Last Updated May 20, 2019