UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Anibal (A.J.) Rodriguez, a senior majoring in psychology in College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Eric A. Walker Award.
The award is presented annually to the student who has contributed most to enhancing the reputation of the University through extracurricular activities. Walker was president of Penn State from 1956 to 1970.
Rodriguez, a Schreyer Scholar and Paterno Fellow, is a lead research assistant at Penn State’s Laboratory for Anxiety & Depression Research. There, he conducts research on the effectiveness of self-monitoring assessments and app-based exercises on anxiety. Rodriguez recruits patients through screenings, schedules sessions, coordinates resources with other labs and trains others.
Additionally, he’s Penn State Interfraternity Council’s vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion; former president of the Omega Gamma Chapter of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity; and student organization consultant and student engagement assistant at the Office of Student Activities.
Rodriguez also volunteers at Centre Helps, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling services, resources, education, training and information to those in need. His duties there include counseling clients, educating about suicide, hiring new counselors and working with various other nonprofits.
“A.J. truly believes in the life lessons learned from co-curricular experiences,” a nominator said. “He has exhibited a true desire to leave a positive imprint on the Penn State campus and has certainly done so. He is always striving to learn how to make his fellow students’ Penn State experience a positive one. He is destined to make this a better world.”
Rodriguez credits the resources at Penn State for his successes.
“I wouldn’t have made it to where I am without the Office of Student Activities, the Department of Psychology and the various staff and faculty who have helped me through everything,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know where I would be without them, so I want to express my gratitude towards them in any way possible.”