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Posted on December 5, 2017

University President Geraldine M. Jones; Dre Ceja, honored as the Undergraduate Student of the Year; Lacy McKenzie, Nontraditional Student of the Year; and Carol Otto Jones, the commission’s co-chair.

The President’s Commission for the Status of Women at California University of Pennsylvania has selected two seniors to receive the fall 2017 Person of the Year awards for their work on behalf of women at Cal U and in the community.

Dre Ceja, of Camp Hill, Pa., and Lacy McKenzie, of Carmichaels, Pa., received their Student of the Year honors Dec. 5 at a luncheon sponsored by the commission.

Ceja was honored in the undergraduate category, and McKenzie was recognized in the undergraduate nontraditional category.

Both students are on track to graduate this month.

“I appreciate the leadership of those being honored and also of the commission,” President Jones said. “You all play a large role in creating a positive campus climate for women’s issues, and you serve as outstanding role models for our students.”

A name change for the award — from Woman of the Year to Person of the Year — was approved in October, meaning students, faculty and staff who aren’t female or who don’t identify as female will be eligible for the honors.

Dre Ceja

Ceja, a sociology major with a minor in women’s studies, is a member of the University Honors Program. Ceja attended Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Women’s Consortium Summer Institute and also collaborated with Cal U students to produce videos to address gender issues for a YouTube channel. 

A fellowship with the Pennsylvania Youth Congress gave Ceja the opportunity to conduct research on inclusivity and policies within the State System.

Ceja also has started Arts of PA, an organization that provides support for the transgender community.

A recipient of the Jan Zivic Outstanding LGBTQA Leadership Award at Cal U, Ceja also was a Rainbow Alliance student adviser and Lambda Bridges leader. 

“It’s an honor,” said Ceja, who also received a Board of Governors Scholarship. “I wasn’t seeking recognition. I’m most proud of the work I’ve been able to do on behalf of the LGBT community.” 

Lacy McKenzie 

McKenzie, an accounting major with a minor in psychology, is a nontraditional student and a mother. Her interests in women’s issues include the areas of equal pay and reproductive rights.

She was nominated by G. David Sivak, an instructor of psychology at Cal U, for being a role model for her classmates and her daughter, maintaining a positive attitude, and working tirelessly toward her undergraduate degree.

“I’m 35 years old — getting this award at this age is surreal,” McKenzie said. “Getting a degree has been a goal all my life.” 

McKenzie was a Presidential Scholar and was inducted into the Sigma Beta Delta business honor society. She also was active with the Student Accounting Association at Cal U. 

“I have taught for more than four decades and can attest that she would be in the top 5 percent of individuals who have turned their lives around and will become a valuable and contributing member of society,” Sivak said. 

“She is a shining example of the type of individuals Cal U can mold with our faculty, staff and vast resources.