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True to character as a former fat kid, I love Girl Scout Cookies. I mean, who doesn’t? They are undeniably delicious and help support a good organization. With that in mind, I had a real hankering for them during the spring semester of sophomore year – I was drowning in math classes and feeling oppressed by the State College winter, and I figured some baked goods would do the trick. So I roll up to the PLA office one day to turn in a form, and on my way out, I ask Amanda, “Hey where can I find some Girl Scout Cookies around here?” and she retorts, “Are you asking me because I’m a townie?!” This was the real moment when Amanda and I became friends, and I am extremely thankful for this friendship. As Friday was Amanda’s last day with the Presidential Leadership Academy, I thought it would be fitting to thank her in a PLA blog.

First, I want to thank Amanda for doing her job extraordinarily well. Amanda supplied much of the leg work behind the PLA trips each semester, and each trip she organized has been an amazing experience. One of my favorite parts of these trips is the food in each city we visit (again, inner fat kid coming out). Before each trip, Amanda would often send me the menus for certain meals and ask me what I thought of each restaurant. I would salivate in the PLA office as I ogle over the menus for deep-dish pizza in Chicago and the itinerary for an upcoming food tour in Los Angeles. I will always admire her tough-as-nails attitude and the way she took no shit from vendors, hotels, bus companies etc. This energy helped make each trip possible.

Now, I also want to thank Amanda for her friendship over the past two years. I’ve spent hours standing at her desk in the office talking about my life, my classes, and my habit of making mountains out of molehills. When I complained about an issue she could help with, Amanda would never hesitate, and when I needed to shut the hell up, Amanda helped me with that too. When I got a stain on my shirt before a job interview, Amanda gave me a pin to cover it up. When I wanted to send out Christmas cards on behalf of the Blue Band librarians, she helped me print labels. And this morning, when I have a dirty crockpot to clean, Amanda gave me tips for how to clean stuck-on food.  Her wisdom is remarkable for her age, and she is officially my first call if I ever get in legal trouble in the State College area. All of these actions were beyond the scope of her job as PLA Admin, but she did them because she is a good friend.

The Presidential Leadership Academy is losing a great asset as Amanda moves on to a new position in Old Main, but I’ll be forever thankful for her service to this organization. I sincerely hope she continues to see clarity in the gray areas of life, long after her time with the Academy.

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