Carnegie Mellon University

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April 10, 2019

Palko Steers Student Groups Toward Success

By Kelly Saavedra

From Buggy Sweepstakes to Bhangra in the Burgh, Kaycee Palko keeps student groups on the right track.

Palko is senior coordinator of Student Leadership, Involvement and Civic Engagement at Carnegie Mellon, better known as SLICE. A problem-solver, sounding board and sage all rolled into one, she delivers top-notch advice to students that helps them turn their dreams into reality.

Among the many student organizations on campus that benefit from Palko’s expert guidance are the Graduate Student Assembly, cmuTV and WRCT radio, the Thistle yearbook, the Student Body Vice President for Organizations, the Committee on Student Organizations, the University Allocations Board, and the Student Government Elections Board.

But in the weeks leading up to Spring Carnival, Buggy takes the top spot as Palko ensures all of the teams are prepared for race day.

“During this time of the year I meet with the Sweepstakes Committee weekly, making sure the teams are doing all they need to do to qualify and addressing any safety concerns,” Palko said. “On the day of the race I’m everywhere, wherever they need me, addressing issues on the fly to help ensure race day is safe, successful and an enjoyable experience.”

Palko has been advising Carnegie Mellon students for the past 11 years. In the 2014-2015 academic year, she earned Carnegie Mellon’s Student Organization Advisor Award.

A key factor in her ability to make an impact, she said, is her holistic approach.

“It’s important to establish a rapport with the students, to remember that this is not just about a business transaction,” she said. “It’s about discussing how things went, what were the challenges and how can we make it more successful next time, but it’s also about asking how are things going in your life, how are your classes, making sure you’ve established a personal connection.”

She added, “The students I interact with are driven, passionate and committed, and sometimes they struggle because they want to do so much. They cannot do it all because they want to put 110 percent into everything, and so sometimes it’s about helping them figure out that maybe they need to let something go.”

Palko earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Susquehanna University and a master’s degree in student development and counseling from Northeastern University.

Palko’s husband works in Carnegie Mellon’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department handling finances for faculty and grant management. When they are not at the university, they are typically out and about, either attending a sports activity with their kids or enjoying all that the city has to offer, from Pirates games to the zoo.

“I love Pittsburgh,” she said.