University of Iowa

Announcing our 2018 Honors at Iowa Scholars

Each year, Honors identifies extraordinary graduating seniors across the University of Iowa for celebration as Honors at Iowa Scholars. While this is not a monetary award, this high recognition acclaims student work in and beyond the classroom, with an emphasis on the applicant’s knowledge, skill, and experience as well as outstanding academic performance, excellence within their chosen discipline(s), and any contributions made to the University community through performance, research, organizational leadership, volunteer service and intellectual or creative engagement.

The 2018 scholars were honored at Honors at Iowa’s Spring Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, April 7,2018 in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol Museum.  They will also be recognized at Honors Commendation Ceremony on Friday May 11, 2018 at MacBride Auditorium.

Tippie College of Business


Chloe Sekhran, Marketing, Dance, Saint Paul, MN

Chloe majored in Marketing, on the Retail Management track, and Dance. She also worked for the Honors Program as a Student Administrative Assistant, which has been the best on-campus job she could have asked for. Outside of the University, Chloe is a member of Alpha Chi Omega, where she served as Assistant Vice President of Philanthropy, Vice President of Chapter Relations and Standards, and Chapter President. Chloe will be working for Alpha Chi Omega's Headquarters as a Chapter Consultant, where she will travel around the country visiting various universities and working with collegiate members of Alpha Chi Omega. She also plans to later pursue a career as a buyer for an apparel retailer and will keep up with dance through small regional projects, and by teaching both dance and yoga.


College of Engineering


Megan Helms, Biomedical Engineering, Downs, IL

Megan will graduate in May with a degree in biomedical engineering. In her time at Iowa, Megan has pursued her passion for merging healthcare and engineering through the national Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars program and her extensive work in the Drack Ophthalmology research lab. She has developed a passion for working with young students as tutor for

TRiO, mentor for Women in Science and Engineering, and ambassador for the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates. Her desire to bridge gaps in healthcare-related professions has led her to volunteer for the Mobile Medical Clinic in Iowa city, and has most recently taken her to Mexico in collaboration with the College of Public Health to study food disparities in local communities. She is thoroughly looking forward to continuing her study of healthcare at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School, where she will continue applying engineering principles to healthcare problems. Megan is looking forward to starting medical school next fall at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She plans to continue being involved in biomedical research and volunteering in the community there.    


Alyssa Mendenhall, Biomedical Engineering, Asbury, IA - No biography provided


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Valerie Drake, International Studies, Solon, IA

Valerie Drake is a fourth-year pre-law student majoring in International Studies and Russian, with a minor in Korean Studies. Last summer, Valerie attended Ewha Woman’s University in South Korea. This summer Valerie will study abroad at Plekhanov University in Moscow. She has served as an Honors Outreach Ambassador, undergraduate teaching assistant, senator in UISG, and a student researcher for the Russian department. Currently, Valerie, with her faculty mentor Professor Osterberg, is completing her honors thesis in International Studies on the topic of global public health policy strategies regarding antibiotic resistance in agriculture. When she is not reading, Valerie enjoys endurance running, archery, and spending time with her horse Radar.  In June, Valerie will travel to Russia to take part in a summer intensive Russian language program at Plekhanov University. Upon her return, Valerie will continue her work as a researcher for the Russian Department with Professor Kostina, and perhaps take on an additional corporate position to gain further experience. In the upcoming months, she will also be developing strong applications for graduate study fellowship opportunities. Valerie intends to focus on domestic and global public health issues pertaining to policy formation in graduate school, and eventually continue on to law school. Throughout this academic and personal journey, Valerie will continue to nurture a love for adventure‚Äîexploring mountain trails, running through forests, and meandering in pastures, with her loyal equine companion, Radar, at her side. Valerie is deeply grateful for the generous support of the faculty, mentors, advisors, and the University of Iowa Honors Program for their role in encouraging and guiding her path to self-discovery.

Sean Finn, Ethics and Public Policy, Economics, Webster, NY - No biography provided

Grant Gullion, Human Physiology, Ottumwa, IA

Grant will graduate in May with a degree in Human Physiology. Grant's involvements in Admissions and Residence Life have been a major component of his undergraduate experience. Grant has enjoyed working with prospective students and their families to help them in the process of choosing schools. Additionally, he believes the interpersonal skills and cultural competencies he obtained during his years as a resident assistant will be critical in his career as a dentist. Grant will be attending dental school at The University of Iowa College of Dentistry beginning in August.

Lance Heady, Biochemistry, Neurobiology, Quincy, IL

Lance will graduate in May with degrees in Biochemistry and Neurobiology. Lance will be pursuing a PhD in neuroscience from UT Southwestern with hopes of continuing his pursuit of understanding how cells in the brain die. While there Lance also wants to continue growing mentoring skills to help guide students, a true love of his. He will also continue training in the art of ballroom dancing and hopes to one day be a national amateur champion. After graduating in May, Lance will be pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Kara Hoving, Environmental Sciences, Mountain Lakes, NJ

Kara Hoving will graduate in May with a degree in Environmental Science, a minor in Biology and a certificate in Sustainability. Throughout her undergraduate career she has served as co-president of the UI Environmental Coalition, written about environmental justice and women’s issues as a Climate Narrative Project Fellow, coached elementary school students through Girls on the Run, and volunteered for several habitat conservation and sustainability organizations while studying abroad in Tasmania. Kara will be spending the next year in Egypt as a Presidential Intern at the American University in Cairo's Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment.

Jacob Isbell, Physics, Astronomy, Garrison, IA

Jacob is a karate-chopping, keyboard-wielding, Tom Petty doppelganger. He will graduate in May with majors in Astronomy and Physics. He works with Dr. Hai Fu to find galaxies in the process of merging together, acting as a Cosmic Archaeologist to discover how galaxies form. Last year, he studied abroad in Sweden where he learned to appreciate the Sun. Jacob has helped develop the Gravbox and has spread his love for astronomy at public outreach events. Beginning this fall, Jacob will be attending the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany to begin a PhD program in Astronomy. He will be studying the regions near the black holes at the centers of galaxies.

Claire Jacobson, French and Arabic, Iowa City, IA

If Claire's college experiences could be summed up in a single word, it would be "language." A French and Arabic major, she studied abroad in Morocco, taking up translation as a way to practice Arabic, leading to an ICRU fellowship at the International Writing Program. Back in English, she wrote for the Honors Newsletter for two years before taking over as editor in 2016, worked as a Writing Fellow, and tutored in the writing center. Claire plans to attend graduate school in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, continue translating Arabic fiction, and eventually work with refugees in Europe and around the Mediterranean.

Anya Kim, Neurobiology, Spanish, Indianola, IA

Anya was born in North Carolina, spent most of her life growing up in Michigan, but she moved to Iowa in high school and liked it so much that she stayed for college. She does research on the neurobiology of stroke, and works with different organizations of campus to help improve how researchers communicate their work to the public. She also enjoys cooking, ultimate frisbee, making neurobiology comic books for kids, modular origami, and dogs. Anya will likely attend medical school next year, and she's currently deciding between Washington University in St. Louis and Stanford University. However, she is also a semi-finalist for a Fulbright Research Grant to Spain, and if she ends up receiving that she would definitely defer for a year to do research on Lou Gehrig's disease at the University of Barcelona.


Alora Kraus, Biochemistry, Iowa City, IA

Alora Kraus will graduate in May from the University of Iowa with a bachelor degree in biochemistry and a certificate of writing. Alora has been involved with the Writing Fellows program through the UI Writing Center, where she helps peers improve their writing skills in classes of all disciplines. Alora has also worked with Michael Schultz, Craig Just, and Eric Taylor in research labs in Radiology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Biochemistry, respectively. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Alora studied abroad in Glasgow, Scotland, where she cultivated a love for culture and travel. Her next step will be applying to the Peace Corps for a position in the health sector. Alora will be applying for a Peace Corps position in the health sector for anywhere. Upon her return, she would like to enroll in a graduate program for public health.


Alexandra Lemoine, English, Journalism and Mass Communication, Crystal Lake, IL - No biography provided

Maria Mertzenich, Psychology, Decorah, IA- No biography provided

Astrid Linn Montuclard, Asian Languages and Literature, Tahiti, French Polynesia

While majoring in Chinese and Pre-Medicine at the University of Iowa, Astrid happily pursued several of her interests: running for the University Track team, doing public health and psychology research, volunteering in medical settings, popularizing mindfulness practice, studying in China for a year, and serving as a Student Government Senator. Astrid deeply thanks the Honors Program for having continually nurtured her desire to grow herself above and beyond what she could have ever imagined before coming to Iowa. Over the upcoming year, Astrid will be serving as a lab manager in a UC Davis-UC Berkeley public health research team studying the impact of warning labels on college students' sugary drinks consumption. She will also complete her certification as a Mindfulness Teacher for the Duke University Center for Koru Mindfulness. After her gap year, Astrid plans to pursue a terminal degree in the field of health.                                                             

Benjamin Ross, Music, Music Education, Rockford, IL

Ben is graduating with degrees in Voice Performance and Music Education after studying with Stephen Swanson. He recently completed an honors thesis studying the works of British composer Gerald Finzi, active for the first half of the 20th century. His favorite opportunities while at Iowa were studying abroad in Vienna, Austria, and the UK, serving as president of an LGBT+ inclusive fraternity, and working many different wonderful jobs for the University Honors Program. Ben is currently seeking out a variety of different opportunities. He hopes to find a job as a high school choral director, and keep an active performing career in classical voice in choirs, operas, and other ensembles.

Jacob Simpson, Economics, Clinton, IA

Jacob will graduate in May with a major in Economics, as well as minors in Music, English, and Philosophy. As President of the University of Iowa Student Government, he collaborates with campus partners to improve financial aid, student employment, and off-campus student support. Formerly, while serving as Co-President of the University of Iowa Gardeners, he successfully pushed for the adoption of a garden and outdoor classroom on Main Campus in the UI Campus Master Plan. Jacob will pursue opportunities in local community development for two or three years before applying to law school.

Caroline Wadman, Psychology, Omaha, NE

Caroline is a Psychology major on the pre-med track with a certificate in Public Health. She was a research assistant in the University's Emergency Department where she studied ATV-related deaths and injuries. She volunteered in an after-school program where she helped educate elementary students on how to be healthy. Currently, she is an Emergency Department volunteer and has been a member of the University of Iowa Spirit Squad for the past four years. Caroline will be pursuing a Masters of Public Health in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Yale University.

Jennifer Wu, Biology, Iowa City, IA - No biography provided

View or download a printable version of this list at PDF iconAnnouncing_Honors_at_Iowa_s_2018_HAISA.pdf