Outstanding Senior Rebecca Clay

By Allie Rossman

Rebecca Clay grew up in rural Iowa, surrounded by endless rows of crops, where she struggled to comprehend how others could be hungry. Her interest and concern about the “bottom billion,” agricultural practices and natural resources have lead her to graduate with two degrees in agronomy and global resource systems.

“Being an agronomist combined all I aspire to be: a meticulous scientist, a passionate humanitarian and an enthusiastic environmentalist,” Clay said.

Clay will have the opportunity to represent the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the December commencement ceremony as the student marshal.

“I am incredibly humbled to have been selected as the CALS student marshal,” Clay said. “It is an honor to get to join my peers at such a meaningful time of our lives.”

Clay has had many successes at Iowa State University. She was an active member of the University Honors program for four years, served as a teaching assistant, research assistant and actively tutored several students to success. She's shared her talent and service by studying abroad a semester in Ecuador, serving as a learning volunteer in Uganda, co-directed the 2014 International Association of students in Agriculture and related Sciences (IAAS) World Congress and served as a summer intern in Guatemala on a sustainable intensification project.

“Becca is an excellent example of a student who contributed in many ways to the college, while maintaining high academic standards,” said Amber Anderson, agronomy lecturer.

After graduation, Clay will travel to Nepal to begin her service as a Peace Corps volunteer. She will be working in food security in a rural hill community in western Nepal. Her specific project will depend on the community’s needs, but in general the work will focus on improved nutrition, increased food production and promotion of low-tech food production projects. She will also have the opportunity to work in soil conservation and empowerment of women and children in the community.

“This position is especially enticing to me because it combines my passions of livelihood improvement and natural resource conservation,” said Clay. “I am excited to embark on the next step of life.”

Her adviser, Mary Wiedenhoeft, an agronomy professor, will escort Clay at the commencement ceremony.

“Becca is one of the best undergrad students that I have advised in the 30 years that I have been advising,” Wiedenhoeft said.

“I believe my selection as the CALS student marshal speaks to the wonderful support system that I have been lucky enough to find at Iowa State,” Clay said. “I feel extremely fortunate to have peers and professors who inspire and support me each day.”