By John Grennan

Junior Vanessa Snyder always lends a helping hand. Whether as a residence hall advisor, co-chair of the Academic Honor Council or an enthusiastic member of a Seminar discussion, she tries to draw out the best in people.  

“In my class, Vanessa would stay after to form study groups and help a student who was struggling with the material,” says psychology professor Emily Hause.

“She is great at fostering productive interaction with other students,” adds Paul Zarnoth, her Seminar professor. “Even when a student said something that the rest of the class disagreed with, she would follow up the line of thought.”

Snyder, recipient of the Linus F. Claeys and Kelsch scholarships, says her work on the honor council is her “real passion.” It does much more than enforce rules – it educates students about academic integrity and counsels those experiencing academic difficulties.

“It’s really a student organization — it’s our policies on our terms,” Snyder says. “It blows me away that we’re allowed to do so much.”   

Snyder’s concern for others extends beyond campus. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, she was one of 25 students who traveled to the New Orleans in a 2006 Jan Term service learning course

It was happening just as we were entering college and starting to ask ourselves who we are and what we believe in,” she recalls. “We literally walked into a disaster area. In New Orleans, two 73-year-old women had been living in one apartment for a week, surviving on just cans of 7-Up before they were rescued by a helicopter.”

Snyder’s empathetic personality has found a natural outlet in her work as a psychology major. She’s well-versed in statistics and research methods, but especially enjoys the discipline’s interpersonal aspect.

“I’m giving a lot of thought to a career in psychology. I really like working with people, so I think I’ve found my calling.”

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