Coast Guard, CDC Featured Among 2019 Trachtenberg School Alumni Award Winners

Professor Kathy Newcomer stands with alumni award winners Amy Peeples and Dr. Zeita Merchant.
Dr. Kathy Newcomer stands with alumni award winners Amy B. Peeples, MPA '91, and Commander Zeita Merchant, MPA '10, during the Alumni and Teaching Awards Networking Reception.
March 08, 2019

During the March 1 Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration annual alumni and teaching awards networking reception, three alumni and three teachers within the school were honored.  Retired Admiral Thad Allen, MPA ’86, of the U.S. Coast Guard helped honor the two alumni who serve in the Coast Guard – Commander Zeita Merchant, MPA ’10, and Vice Admiral Scott Buschman, MPA ’96. Dr. Kathy Newcomer honored Amy B. Peeples, MPA ’91, and the outstanding teaching award winners.

Buschman and Peeples were both selected as this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award winners. This award honors graduates who are more than 10 years post-graduation who have made a lasting impact on society though outstanding professional, voluntary or philanthropic accomplishments.

Merchant was the winner of this year’s Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, which honors graduates within 10 years of their graduation who are at the early stages of the career but have already distinguished themselves and demonstrate promise of greater achievement.

Admiral Allen encouraged the 100+ attendees – current students, faculty, staff and alumni of the Trachtenberg School – to be active and engaged citizens.  He then highlighted the impressive qualities and dedication of both Coast Guard awardees. He called Merchant and Buschman people he’s honored to mentor and people who have helped to mentor him.

Dr. Merchant currently serves as the Commanding Officer, Marine Safety Unit Chicago, and was recently awarded the most prestigious leadership award within the Coast Guard. In her acceptance remarks, Dr. Merchant gave thanks for the opportunities she’s been afforded through her service in the Coast Guard and one of those unique opportunities brought her to GW.  She owes her success to her mentors and professors that invested in her while at the university and throughout her career. She encouraged the students and alumni to continue to “lose yourself in service to others” as there is no higher calling than to serve.

Buschman was not able to attend the awards ceremony, but Admiral Allen shared an insider’s view to the work he does each day. He was selected a winner in recognition of his dedication to the safety and security of U.S. citizens and interests across the world.

Peeples was recognized for her 25+ years with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She began work with the CDC immediately after graduating with her MPA degree when she was selected to be a Presidential Management Intern (now knows as the PMF).

While the federal government is a large bureaucracy, Peeples highlighted the daily individual influence her work has had on citizens. From recruiting uninsured or underinsured women to participate in a    screening program for the early detection of breast and cervical cancers to implementing efficiencies to improve systems and structures within the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Peeples encouraged the students and alumni to remember the impact a federal worker can have on individuals.

In addition to the alumni award winners, students in the Trachtenberg School nominated and selected three winners of outstanding teaching awards. Strader won the full-time teaching award, Firschein was selected for the part-time teaching award and Hopkin was awarded the outstanding teaching assistant award.