Student Stories: Animal science major does it all, doesn't waste a minute

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Some students, it seems, don't get nearly as much out of their college years as they should. They don't join organizations, they don't network to prepare for a job search, they miss too many classes and they don't truly experience campus life.

That's not the case for Josh Van Wyk, who is using his college time to gain life experience, leadership skills and a jump-start to a great career.

The junior animal science major and ag business management minor packs his days with so many activities, it's amazing he has time for it all. He divides his time between Air Force ROTC, his classwork, the men's club volleyball team and serving as an Ag Advocate for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The York native initially declared a major in mechanical engineering but switched into animal science because of his passion for animals and agriculture. "I love this major because of the hands-on work I get to do with the livestock," he explained. "I missed that when I was in engineering."

Van Wyk worked for a couple of months at the Penn State dairy barns, which he really enjoyed. That experience inspired him to pursue a major that would allow him the greatest chance for interaction with livestock.

As an Ag Advocate, he represents the College of Ag Sciences on and off campus. He helps with new student orientation, open houses, alumni activities and new student recruitment events.

"I decided to apply to be an Ag Advocate because I love the college," he said. "In other colleges, you are just an anonymous number, but in the College of Ag Sciences, we are a family, and the professors really care about our success as students."

In addition, Van Wyk is involved in Penn State's Air Force ROTC. He is grateful for the experience he's gained through ROTC. "I'm learning how to be a leader. I now have refined skills from my training in the Air Force that I can apply to almost anything."

After he graduates, Van Wyk will serve on active duty in the Air Force for a minimum of four years, but probably longer. "My dream is to be an Air Force pilot, flying fighter jets. That's everyone's dream," he said.

With what is left of his time, Van Wyk plays on the men's club volleyball team. He also serves as the club's travel officer, figuring out how the team will get to all its matches. Last year the team made it to the national semifinals.

With what is left of his time, Josh Van Wyk plays on the men's club volleyball team.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated February 24, 2016