Peru State College
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News Release
Fort Calhoun native Amanda Volksen wins top honor at National Education Association Leadership Conference


September 30, 2013, 4:00 p.m. CDT

Allie Buesing

Amanda Volksen

(Peru, Neb.) Peru Student Education Association (PSEA) President-Elect Amanda Volksen, a junior early childhood and elementary education major from Fort Calhoun, has been honored by the National Education Association (NEA) with the Jeffrey “J.D.” Miller Outstanding Underclassman Award at the organization’s National Student Leadership Conference in Atlanta.

Volksen received the same honor earlier this year from the Student Education Association of Nebraska (SEAN).

Associate Professor of Education and PSEA Advisor Dr. Judith Ruskamp said, “We are proud to have had two PSEA members earn this national award in the past three years. It is a testament to the caliber of students enrolled in our teacher education program and the exceptional faculty who mentor them every day. It’s exciting to see Amanda become so actively engaged in the PSEA organization, replicating the enthusiasm and passion for education of those who have come before her. We are very proud of her accomplishments.”

Volksen said, “When I found out I won this prestigious national award, I was astounded! What an honor it is to be recognized in this way. I have a real passion for educating children and I can’t wait to put what I am learning at Peru State to use in the classroom. I look forward to continuing my involvement in PSEA and congratulate my peers on their successes at the state and national conferences as well.” 

PSEA Newsletter Editor Megan Brown, a senior special education and early childhood education major from Syracuse, won the 2012-2013 Outstanding Local Newsletter Award at the NEA conference. She received the NEA’s Jeffrey “J.D.” Miller Outstanding Underclassman Award in 2011.

Ali Umland, a senior early childhood, elementary and special education major from Jansen, and Ruskamp were selected by SEAN members to represent Nebraska educators at the NEA conference. Umland was named SEAN’s 2013 Outstanding Local Leader Award and Ruskamp was named Outstanding Chapter Advisor.

Each year PSEA sponsors several community outreach efforts, one of which is hosting more than 1,200 Head Start and K-4th grade students from a dozen area schools at the annual Dr. Seuss Birthday Party and Celebration. The event is held in conjunction with Read Across America Week and is intended to help children develop a love for reading. Other activities include the celebration of American Education Week, a Community Outreach to Teach Project, Reading Buddies Program, Scholastic Book Fair, Trick or Treat for Southeast Nebraska Community Action, ESU #4 Education Academy Mentorship Engagement Activity, 8 to Great Leadership Seminar, and the Pre-Professional Development Seminar.

Volksen is a member of Peru’s Individual Leaders of Today (PILOT); the Physical Education, Activity & Kinesiology Students (PEAKS); vice president of Red Cross Club; chair of the annual Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash for PSEA; and organizer of Outreach to Teach at the Peru Daycare. She is a TeamMates Mentor, Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees Scholar and has been named to the Peru State Dean’s List. 

Volksen is the daughter of Kelly and Thomas Volksen of Fort Calhoun.

For additional information about the awards or PSEA, contact Ruskamp at or 402-872-2301.