BYU Marriott MPA Students Receive the 2020 Doyle W. Buckwalter Award

PROVO, Utah – Dec 09, 2020 – Two BYU Marriott School of Business MPA students received the Doyle W. Buckwalter Award for their outstanding internship performance during 2020. The winners, Marieka Creek and Zachary Simons, each received $2,000.

Creek is a student emphasizing in the nonprofit sector from Cincinnati and will be graduating in April 2021. She received the Buckwalter award for her internship with Village Book Builders, a nonprofit that empowers communities around the world to end the cycle of poverty through education. While working for this nonprofit, she created the organization’s first development team and worked in relationship management. Using the fundraising knowledge she gained from her MPA classes, Creek created a fundraising strategy to help raise enough money to build a library at the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi.

Creek’s favorite experience during the internship was seeing the positive impact of effective, engaging fundraisers. “The fundraiser I worked on was phenomenal. The amount of money we raised was miraculous,” she says. Donations doubled after she created social media posts to inform donors what their money would go towards in building the library—such as a certain number of library books or a door. “After employing some of the skills I learned in my MPA classes, the fundraiser became a success,” she says. 

Creek recalls the nonprofit’s founder and chief impact officer asking her various questions including how to engage board members and how to address specific problems the nonprofit was facing. By applying what she learned in her MPA classes, Creek helped Village Book Builders move forward and find solutions to the problems they faced. “Witnessing how the lessons I’ve learned in my MPA program apply in real life was incredible,” she says. 

Simons is an MPA student from Alexandria, Virginia, emphasizing in state and federal government with a minor in information systems. He received the Buckwalter award for his outstanding internship performance at the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit that strives for a more effective government for the American people. While working for this nonprofit, he took part in five different leadership development programs for federal government employees. Among other things, his responsibilities included facilitating online conference calls, creating presentation visuals, and hosting federal employee meetings. 

A responsibility Simons enjoyed was when he took part in producing the final session of the Excellence in Government (EIG) Fellows program. “While producing that final session, I was able to interact with many federal employees and be part of their culminating experience with EIG,” says Simons. “I enjoyed hearing what they learned, what they wanted to apply to their careers, and what their plans were moving forward. 

After graduating from the MPA program in 2021, Simons hopes to work in Washington, DC. “I want to help improve organization within the government,” Simons says. “The thought of how much good public service can do—not only for the United States but also for the world—continues to motivate me.”

Rex Facer, an associate professor of public management at BYU Marriott and co-chair of the awards committee, says he enjoys watching the effort students such as Creek and Simons put into their individual internships. “Seeing the impact that our students have is always a pleasure,” he says. 

The Doyle W. Buckwalter Award is an annual award in memory of its namesake’s service in the Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics at BYU Marriott and is awarded to students who demonstrate excellent internship performance. “This award encourages its recipients to share the things they learned from their internship with other students so those students can continue to evolve and grow,” says Facer. “Not only are the award recipients enhancing their own learning experience, but they’re enhancing the learning experience of other students as well.”

Photo of Marieka Creek with white background
BYU Marriott MPA student Marieka Creek. Photo courtesy of Marieka Creek.
Photo of Zach Simons with white background
BYU Marriott MPA student Zachary Simons. Photo courtesy of Zachary Simons.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Rebecca Nissen