CALS students earn Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award

By Amber Friedrichsen

Four students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have been named recipients of the 2022 Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award. Established in 1968, the award recognizes students who display notable character, high academic achievement, and are actively involved in on- and off-campus activities.

Wallace E. “Red” Barron served as Iowa State University’s director of alumni affairs from 1937 until 1968. In addition to administering the award in his honor, the ISU Alumni Association will present recipients with the official Iowa State University ring.

This year’s awardees from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences include:

Belinda (Heckman) Hoffman

Belinda Hoffman

Belinda (Heckman) Hoffman, senior in global resource systems and dietetics, has been a key player in addressing food insecurity at Iowa State and in the Ames community. She served as president of S.H.O.P. (Students Helping Our Peers) for two years and helped facilitate the student-run food pantry’s move across campus from the Food Sciences Building to Beyer Hall.

Hoffman also contributed to food security on an international level when she studied abroad in Uganda in the fall of 2018. There, she interviewed local farmers and community members about farming practices and nutrition to identify areas of improvement.

“I developed surveys and talked to people to find out what kind of issues they faced on their farms,” Hoffman said. “I also asked what they had done to combat those things and what kind of change they would like to see. It was a great learning opportunity.”

Hoffman is the vice-chair of CALS Ambassadors, previously leading the group’s recruitment and planning committee. She has worked for the Iowa Crop Improvement Association, has been a community advisor for Iowa State’s Department of Residence, and is a part of an off-campus student ministry group called International Friendship Connection.

Hoffman’s dream is to find a job that combines her interests in agriculture and food security with her desire to support underrepresented and minoritized groups. 

“The things I’ve been involved in are a pretty direct reflection of what I care about,” Hoffman said. “The experiences I’ve had outside the classroom have been impactful in helping me find things I’m passionate about and have shaped my goals.”

Javelis Marín Castro

Javlis Marin Castro

Javelis Marín Castro is a senior in animal ecology and a leader in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at Iowa State. She is a member of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), and previously served as the organization’s president for two years. Marín Castro is also involved in the Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE), as well as the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NSCORE).

Marín Castro is a member of TRIO Student Support Services Program, and served as a community advisor for Iowa State’s Department of Residence. Additionally, she was a member of the CALS’ Leaders Enhancing Agriculture, Diversity, Inclusion and Trust, Collective (LEAD IT) when it was an active organization.

She was the recipient of the George Washington Carver Spirit of Innovation and Service Award in the fall of 2020. As a first-generation college student from Puerto Rico, Marín Castro said being a part of many groups and holding various leadership positions has helped her connect with others and establish a sense of belonging so far from home.

Marín Castro is spending her last semester at the University of Hawaii through Iowa State’s National Student Exchange Program. After graduation, she hopes to attend veterinary school and work in conservation medicine.

“I plan to work internationally,” Marín Castro said. “I would like to be in Australia or in a country in Africa to do rescue, rehabilitation, and release. I am a strong believer that wild animals should be in the wild if they have the capabilities to do so.”

Paiton McDonald

Paiton McDonald

Paiton McDonald is a senior in agricultural biochemistry and international agriculture. She has been an integral part of the Stupka Undergraduate Research and Planning Committee since she was a freshman, organizing an annual symposium to honor former student Rob Stupka’s contributions to research at Iowa State. She has also been a First-Year Honors Program Leader and a teaching assistant in many chemistry courses.

McDonald has done extensive research on bovine syncytial virus in neonatal calves under Jodi McGill, assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine. She has assisted in many studies surrounding feed supplementation and vaccination, and her honors capstone project examined animals’ acute phase response to the disease.

“I’ve been in Dr. McGill’s lab for four years and she’s taught me everything I know,” McDonald said. “I aspire to be like her one day.”

In 2021, McDonald was one of two Iowa State students to be named a Goldwater Scholar. The national scholarship is based on academic merit and is awarded to undergraduates who want to pursue STEM research in their careers.

McDonald will continue her education in livestock immunology and aspires to become a professor of animal health with appointments in teaching and research. She hopes her work will impact the next generation in agriculture in the U.S., as well as in developing countries around the world.

Sydney Paris

Sydney Paris

Sydney Paris, senior in animal science and microbiology, currently serves as the president of the American Pre-Veterinarian Medical Association. During her time as a student, she has also been president of Iowa State’s Cardinal Key Honor Society, a member of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, and a mentor and tutor for the university’s STEM Scholars Program.

She has been involved with student government, the Pre-Vet Club, the Cultural Ambassador Program, and has served as an An-Cy Guide for the Department of Animal Science. Paris has also worked with many faculty members at the College of Veterinary Medicine to study topics including welfare in beef cattle, mycoplasma in swine, and stem cell research in zebra fish.

After graduation, Paris hopes to attend Texas A&M University and enroll in a dual-degree program so she can pursue her goals of becoming a veterinarian and a professor. In addition to teaching and doing research at a university, Paris is inspired to support college students the same way she has witnessed Howard Tyler, assistant dean of undergraduate and graduate student services and success and one of her role models, help students at Iowa state.

“Being a professor would be an awesome opportunity to give back,” Paris said. “Dr. Tyler works with students from disadvantaged backgrounds or who have experienced financial or familiar hardships in college. I want to do something similar to him – to mentor students and help them continue on their path.”