Shippenville, Pa., native Cody Rapp grew up aware of the ties between the Clarion area and the university. When it came time to choose a college, he found Clarion University to be a perfect fit.
"At a bigger school or one that doesn't have so much around it, you don't get as many experiences. There's so much the town offers that you can take advantage of that really has a compounding effect on your education," the liberal arts major said.
Immediately he began to get involved in activities, both on campus and off. It was during the spring semester of his freshman year that Rapp enrolled in Clarion's Emerging Leaders program, which gives first year students the opportunity to learn about, use and reflect on leadership skills and issues.
"That's really what got me on the leadership track," Rapp said. "I worked with (assistant director of the Center for Leadership and Involvement) Kelly Ryan. She took my ideas and said, 'Let's make a difference.'"
He continued to seek leadership opportunities. He found them in campus jobs, including working as a career coach for Career Services and an orientation leader for Transition Services, and in organizations, including Show Choir, of which he is a past president, and Rapp's fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, of which he is vice president of member development and past president. He was selected as a 2011-12 Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation National Competition Scholar, which recognizes 20 college men nationally each year for distinguishing themselves in the classroom, on campus, in the community and in their chapters.
"I've been able to go to so many conferences through our leadership continuum that it's developed me professionally and socially," Rapp said. "There isn't anything I can't do now, and I can see that through my work in my fraternity."
His fraternity is where he realized that he could have a career in leadership in higher education.
"I can't get enough of it, and I love that I love it that much," Rapp said. "You always can be serving more people in new and better ways. The effect you can have on people is wonderful."
Rapp is serving an internship at Clarion County Area Chamber of Business and Industry, where he is involved in planning for the annual Autumn Leaf Festival. Through the internship Rapp said he has gained a better sense of balance with multiple tasks, organizing and creating events.
"We have all of these events, and they're overlapping. It requires me to perform at a higher level - my efficiency has to be higher than it's ever been," he said.
He worked at the chamber's annual dinner this year, where he was named Douglas L. Sharrar Volunteer of the Year for his philanthropy in the community, including working with the festival's annual scholarship pageant for the past nine years.