College of Ag Sciences honors Student Diversity Achievement Award winners

Kelly Jedrzejewski
June 02, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ryley Lehew and Tyler Jones received the Dr. William Henson Student Diversity Achievement Award from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, an honor that recognizes distinctive and outstanding teaching, research, extension or creative work that advances diversity in the college.

The students were honored during a virtual meeting of the college’s Diversity Coordinating Council in May.

Ryley Lehew, of Indian Head, Maryland, graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a minor in photography. Next year, Lehew will return to Penn State to begin a master’s degree in management and organizational leadership from the Smeal College of Business.

Lehew is involved in numerous groups across campus and demonstrates leadership while serving on the executive boards for a variety of student organizations and coordinating communications with individuals associated with the queer community.

Brian Patchcoski, director of Penn State’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, said, “Ryley has shown and continues to demonstrate an intense desire to ethically serve and educate others — a desire deeply based in advocacy, justice and community formation.”

Patchcoski also noted that Lehew continues to challenge the center and the University to persevere with student advocacy on campus and expand programs and policies to meet the ever-challenging needs of the Penn State community. Lehew not only fosters change within the LGBTQ+ community, but also across the many other communities beyond the University.

“Ryley embodies a sincere desire to strive for equality and connection that certainly will continue to benefit their professional experiences moving forward,” Patchcoski said. “Through their experiences, coursework and desire to foster community and connection, I believe Ryley understands the multiple realities that need to be addressed within today’s world, challenging them to constantly assess their actions and their work to build the most inclusive and nurturing environments.”

Tyler Jones, of Jonesboro, Georgia, is a graduate student in the Department of Entomology. She completed her undergraduate studies with a degree in psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014.

Jones has been part of Penn State since 2016. In that time, she has worked to influence departmental policies to create an inclusive environment for all students. Joyce Sakamoto, assistant research professor, wrote that Jones “firmly believes we, as a department, could and should be leaders in the field in setting a higher standard for diversity, inclusion and equity.”

To pursue her goals of a more inclusive department, Jones served on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and helped craft a departmental diversity statement. She has served as vice president of the Entomology Graduate Student Association and as the student chair of the recruitment committee.

This year, Jones designed and implemented many changes to recruitment, with the goal of offering better support to all recruits, but particularly those who were members of underrepresented groups. She said she also wants to support and help undergraduates in understanding the process of getting into and thriving in graduate school.

Jones is a member of the Penn State Black Graduate Student Association and the Penn State chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences.

“I’m passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in science through science communication because we have a responsibility to share our research,” Jones said. “As a field, we will stagnate if we don’t consciously uplift voices that are commonly quieted or pushed out.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 15, 2021