Honors at Iowa Scholars

Each year, the Honors Program identifies its extraordinary graduating seniors across the University of Iowa for celebration as Honors at Iowa Scholars. This high recognition acclaims students’ engagement with, and contributions to, the Honors Program, their academic performance and work in and beyond the classroom, with an emphasis on the applicant’s knowledge, skill, and experience, and excellence within their chosen discipline(s). Additionally, it recognizes any contributions made to the University community through performance, research, organizational leadership, volunteer service and intellectual or creative engagement.

See below for their biographies and advice to younger students.

2021 Honors at Iowa Scholars

 

College of Engineering

Vance Davis
Vance studied environmental engineering, focusing on environmental education. They invested in the Presidential Scholars Program as a member, mentor, and teaching assistant. They also spent a short time researching rural water quality with the Just Research group. Finally, they engaged heavily in the UI community through their work as a resident assistant and teaching assistant.
"Relax, and learn to take the right things seriously at the right time. Learning confidence and humility is a simultaneous process, and both stem from awareness. Learn who you are without defining who you are, learn what the world is without limiting the world. Witness and be."
Anthony DeSalvo

Anthony has been involved as the President of the Presidential Scholars Program and as the co-president of the American Wind Energy Association on campus. His research at Iowa has focused on water quality for rural Iowans, and his specific research interest is in natural water treatment systems. 

"I would tell new students to pursue what they're interested in with their whole heart! Don't waste your few years here studying a subject that you aren't interested in. This is your chance to fully explore topics you're passionate about. So long as you're doing what you love, there is no wrong path to take!"

Marissa Mueller
Marissa was recruited Iowa as an NCAA javelin thrower. She has been published and received national research recognitions as an ICRU Fellow and National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholar. She has enjoyed serving on the Big 10 and Iowa Student-Athlete-Advisory-Committee (President), the University Student Government, and the Presidential Committee on Athletics. She is a 2021 Canadian Rhodes Scholar and has committed to the Harvard-MIT MD-PhD program to pursue the career of a physician-scientist.
"Find what you love, love what you find, and enjoy every step along the way! Take advantage of the opportunities in Honors which nurture intellectual, professional, creative, technical, and personal development. Real learning happens when you step outside your comfort zone; be open to and welcome change. Make new friends, stay connected with family, and spend time getting to know Iowa’s faculty. Seek out and soak in every experience!"
Charles Mascardo

During Charles' time at the University of Iowa, he was involved in a variety of experiences on campus. During his freshman year, Charles got involved with research in a lab studying novel ventilation approaches and also with the Honors Program as an outreach ambassador. As a junior, he transitioned towards taking teaching and advising roles by becoming an Engineering TA and an Honors Peer Mentor.

"Get involved! There are so many opportunities on campus, ranging from personal hobby clubs to career-focused associations, and everything in between. Putting yourself out there early allows you to make more connections with peers and mentors alike."

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 

Keith Brendes

Keith Brendes was a Chemistry major who decided to follow the pre-medicine track. The Honors program helped him continue on this path by not only challenging him academically, but also getting him involved in real world experiences. It was in completing his experiential learning component of the Honors program, either as an Orientation Guide, Honors Outreach Ambassador, or research assistant in the lab, that he realized his passion for working with people and for medicine.

"My strongest advice would be to get involved early and to try to broaden your experiences. It is better to try things and realize you do not like them than to not try them at all. By getting involved in a variety of ways, you will be able to discover what is truly important to you, and this self-discovery is key to the Honors program curriculum."

Klaudia Golebiewski

Klaudia will be graduating with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a minor in Global Health Studies. During her time at Iowa, Klaudia participated in research under Dr. Kai Hwang in the Hwang Lab for Neurocognitive Dynamics, served as president of the UI EMS Student Organization, worked as an EMT, held a role as a teaching intern for the Biology department, and has been an Honors Outreach Ambassador for 7 of her 8 semesters.

"My advice to students just getting started at Iowa is to get out of your comfort zone. If you're afraid to try something new, try it anyway! Every opportunity you take and experience you have will be valuable to you in your life's journey; so, make the most of the Honors Program’s support and what the University of Iowa has to offer!"

Satori Good

Satori has worked as an Honors Writing Fellow, Honors Outreach Ambassador, and volunteered through the Iowa Youth Writing Project. Outside the classroom, they have held leadership positions in Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority and Iowa Hillel, and worked at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. 

"Don’t be afraid to get involved with experiential learning EARLY. Writing Fellows has been Satori’s most formative experience in learning how to teach and work with students, and they applied their freshman year. Also, don’t be afraid to email random people in class about studying at the library with you, the worst they can do is say no and you might make a friend."

Elizabeth Johnson

Beyond my English & Creative Writing and French majors, I've had the opportunity to be a leader within my community as an Orientation Leader, an Honors Outreach Ambassador, a Teaching Assistant for the Honors Outreach Ambassador course, an English Department Ambassador, and as founder and Editor-in-Chief of the University of Iowa branch of The Foundationalist. I also studied abroad for one summer in Heredia, Costa Rica, and interned for an internationally active nonprofit (Sustainable Living Guide). 

"My greatest advice for students coming to the University of Iowa who will be joining the Honors Program is mainly to explore their options. I came to university with a lot of interests and was very unsure of what path I might want to take for a future career--I was overwhelmed by the number of opportunities and options before more. The Honors Program helped me to explore different avenues through Honors coursework, projects, and experiential learning. On top of that, the Honors Program provided me with my first community at this large university. I found a sense of belonging, people I could relate to, and support for my passions and goals. Definitely join Prime Time if you can! That is where I met my roommates for the following three years at the university, and they are now my life-long friends."

Aastha Chandra

Aastha first got involved in the Honors Program as a Presidential Scholar, eventually serving as a TA for the seminar her senior year. Her major experiences at the University have been in University Lecture Committee, Student Government, and the Latham Science Engagement Program. Over the course of her time at Iowa, she has studied Biomedical Sciences, Public Health, and Political Science, which have all culminated in her passion for women's health and medicine.

"Okay, three things: 1. Try a ton of things your first year! You don't have to commit to anything deeply right away, but it'll be much easier to find the activities you're truly interested by and devote time to those. I met ton of super interesting people doing this and learned a ton, even if I didn't stay in those activities. 2. Go to lectures around campus!! ICFRC, Lecture Committee, students/professors presenting their research....anything! It was so fun to sit and hear about the most random topics, just for the enjoyment of learning something new. It's a nice break from all the exams, papers, presentations, etc etc that you'll have. 3. Finally, don't take rejections as a stop sign. There have been (quite) a few times I wasn't accepted to something or the other, and either I tried again and was accepted or pursued a new opportunity that turned out to be more fun than I expected."

Guowei Qi

Guowei will graduate from Iowa with majors in Biochemistry, Mathematics, and Computer Science, as well as a minor in Chemistry. During his time at Iowa, Guowei has been heavily involved in undergraduate research, studying computational biophysics with Dr. Michael Schnieders in the Department of Biochemistry. He has also been involved in the Undergraduate Student Government, UI Environmental Coalition, UI Bike Friends, ICRU Ambassadors, and UI Research Council.

"Find things to get involved in, both within your field of study and outside of it. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, but also know when to take a step back and relax. Take time to develop relationships with people who both challenge and support you, whether that's friends, classmates, professors, mentors, or anyone in between!"

Mason Koelm

Mason has been involved in Honors since he was an Honors Outreach Ambassador. Since then, he has interned at the Office of the State Archaeologist, which was featured by the Office of the Vice President for Research's Dare to Discover Campaign. He has also done provenance research on African art objects in the Stanley Museum of Art. His Honors Thesis for Criminology analyzed the deterrent effect of international conventions on the illicit trade of antiquities.

"Honors, college, and life are what you make of them. Seize every opportunity, use every resource, and try new things. From the Honors Professional Staff, to your academic advisor, to your peers living in the dorm room next to you, there are people around you who are more than happy to help you make your connection or answer any questions you might have."

Anna Magana

Anna spent her time as a Creative Writing major engaging in different writing opportunities across campus, such as a student-led satire magazine and the 2019 International Writing Program Summer Institute. 

"I would encourage Honors students to take the time to get to know their peers as well as their instructors. Excelling in course work is certainly important, but the relationships you have with people are what you can continue long past graduation."

Erin Golden

Erin will graduate with a B.S. in Neuroscience and with minors in Philosophy and Psychology. Erin worked as a Student Clerk in Pediatrics at the UIHC and was a Peer Mentor for Honors. Erin was a Peer Leader for the Conversation Practicum and worked in the Conversation Center in the summer. She has loved her time at Iowa and is grateful for her experiences and the people she has met.

"Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed, and it’s okay to take a step back from classes or projects or programs. Feeling overwhelmed does not mean that you don’t deserve to be here. Feeling overwhelmed does not mean that you aren't smart enough. You deserve to be here.
Don’t feel like there is a “right way” to do college. There is no perfect degree or perfect list of extracurriculars. Enjoying what you do is far more important than any minor or extracurricular."
Carly Heying

Carly will be graduating with degrees in History and Spanish, as well as minors in Political Science, English, and Dance. During her time at Iowa, Carly worked as a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program and served as Treasurer of the University of Iowa Swing Dance Club. Some of her favorite undergraduate experiences were writing her senior history thesis on American involvement in the Spanish Civil War, interning at the U.S. Senate, performing in the Faculty/Graduate dance concert, and studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. 

"My best advice is not to wait to get involved in the things you want to get involved in. You are ready and you are good enough for anything you want to do, so don’t be afraid to explore new interests. And remember that you learn just as much from relationships – with your friends, your roommates, your professors, your partners – as you do from class. "
Amy Rodriguez

Amy Rodriguez will be graduating with a Theatre Arts degree this May. She was a part of the 2019-20 UI Honors Fellowship with other Second Year students. With the Theatre Arts department, she was a board member of the Undergraduate Student Theatre Arts Representatives and has also acted in several Mainstage Productions. Amy was also a part of the Associated Residence Hall organization where she served as the Catlett Director of Communications.

"Though it may seem intimidating, apply for every opportunity without fear of being rejected. Chances are you are more qualified than you think, and I have had so many more opportunities through the University and the University Honors Program by just putting my foot in the door as often as possible. Don't underestimate yourself, you are here for a reason and you should take advantage of these experiences."

 

Caroline Meek

Caroline is a queer, environmentally-concerned nature poet with OCD & ADHD. She's graduating with a degree in English & Creative Writing, as well as seventy-five houseplants. She spent the last four years editing poetry with earthwords, throwing frisbees with the Women’s Ultimate team, and researching global and local creative communities through ICRU, Rescue Press, and the International Writing Program. She also served as an Honors Peer Mentor and the Head TA for the Presidential Scholars Program. 

"Things I'm still learning:
1. Nothing matters, but in a good way. You get to choose what matters, and whether or not you’re going to prioritize it. These things can be the smallest things.
2. You don’t owe anyone anything, in the grand scheme of things, so let go of your expectations and stop doing things because you feel obliged to.
3. Let your mind wander. Go on walks and let your brain unwind.
4. You’re enough without doing anything — your value is not dependent on what you do. You’re already enough, so what will you do with the time you have?"
Anushi

Anushi will graduate with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and a Physical Activity and Nutrition Science minor. Her experiences at Iowa include undergraduate research, volunteering through the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and being an Honors Ambassador. Her involvement as a Teaching Intern and a Supplemental Instruction Leader led to her interest in incorporating teaching into her future career. She has committed to Carver College of Medicine to pursue a career in medicine.

"My advice to incoming students is to take advantage of the variety of opportunities at Iowa from the beginning of their college career. Getting involved in new experiences can allow you to learn more about yourself and what motivates you. Get to know your professors and don’t hesitate to ask for guidance. Everyone here wants you to succeed!"
Josie Marchant

Josie is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation. During her time at University of Iowa, she spent a semester studying at la Universidad de Sevilla in Spain. She has been actively involved in the Honors Outreach Ambassador program serving as a teaching assistant for three semesters. Josie also was a member of Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity and served as the president of the Therapeutic Recreation Student Association. On top of that, she represented University of Iowa Therapeutic Recreation students by holding a student representative position on the Iowa Inclusive and Therapeutic Recreation Association Board. Josie presented at the annual IITRA conference on adaptive tools that can be made from items in the home. 

"I would encourage you to try everything! In order to find what you are passionate about, you need to explore as much as possible. Be apart of groups and activities that make you happy - not just because they are a good "resume builder". Your experiences will be that much more meaningful and you will enjoy your time if you like being there. Cherish every second, even the hard ones, it will be over before you know it."

Josh Parbs

Josh Parbs is a Biochemistry and Global Health student who has been involved in a wide variety of engagements outside of the classroom. These include investigating the interactions between protein and DNA as an undergraduate researcher, working at a day camp for children on a naval base in Japan, and volunteering as an HIV tester at the University of Iowa Mobile Clinic. He enjoys spending too much money on Dunkin' in his spare time.

"I would say to find what you are passionate about, and do a lot of that. Don't ever feel like you need to do something to check of a box - life is too short to do things we don't enjoy. Also, be sure to smile and eat your vegetables." 

Laura Widman
 

 Laura majored in Linguistics and Ethics and Public Policy in order to explore their interests in both language and policy, and how these two fields intersect through educational and linguistic policies. They have spent much of their time in Iowa City getting involved in the larger community beyond the university through local organizations, and doing public policy research on issues such as human rights, tenants rights and linguistic discrimination.

"I would encourage new students to find ways to get involved with the larger Iowa City community: get to know your neighbors, join local organizations, learn about city events and activities. There is an entire community outside of the university that students can learn a lot from by being a member of the larger community."

 

  College of Nursing

Anna Milleker
Since her sophomore year, Anna has participated in nursing research focusing on cancer symptom management. She studied abroad in Madagascar to learn about traditional medicine and global healthcare systems, and she believes this experience changed the way she views healthcare. She was also very involved in Dance Marathon for three years, holding positions including Multimedia Chair and Lime Captain. During her senior year, she worked on the pediatric cancer unit at the children’s hospital.

"Take the time to figure out who you are as a person. Learn how to balance life with your difficult coursework because growing as a strong, open-minded individual is just as important as scoring well on exams. You are capable of more than you know. Get out there and let your light shine!"

Sarah Potter

Sarah has spent her college years passionate about leading and serving others. She has served on the executive boards for her sorority, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, and the University of Iowa Board of Nursing Students. She also held various employment positions. For her Honors in Nursing project she created educational materials synthesizing her mentor Dr. Ramey’s research with the Milwaukee Police Department regarding resilience training in law enforcement and its significant health benefits.  

"I encourage everyone to find organizations that match your passions and pursue leadership positions when possible. Being involved will grant you countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. When joining the Honors Program, you have opened the door to even more occasions for advancing your skills and diving into your curiosities. Always say yes to new opportunities when you can, and stay curious!"
   

  College of Public Health

Noah Wick

Noah Wick is a fourth-year student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, majoring in Public Health. He is a University Honors student and is completing a research thesis under the mentorship of Dr. Rima Afifi on the barriers to pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake among college-aged men who have sex with men. Noah served as Speaker Pro Tempore and as an At-Large Senator for the Undergraduate Student Government, where he worked with various student organizations and university/collegiate committees.

"I think what's most important is to follow where your interests are! Joining an organization or conducting research that you're passionate about, even if it's in a field that might seem out of your major's field or your envisioned future career is incredibly rewarding and allows you to explore where your interests might truly lie. Some of the most rewarding experiences I've had as an undergraduate have come from opportunities that I had initially thought were unrelated to my field!"

 

Tippie College of Business

Mia Qu

Mia Qu is graduating with majors in Economics, Marketing, and Linguistics. She served on the President’s Charter Committee on Diversity as well as the International Strategic Planning Committee, and she was the chair of the International Student Advisory Board. Mia is conducting Linguistics research on the impact of accents on credibility. She received the 2021 Delta Sigma Pi Scholarship Key by having the highest GPA in the Tippie College of Business graduating class.

"There are so many opportunities for growth--step out of your comfort zone and become the best version of yourself. Get involved. Make connections. Create memories. I truly enjoyed being a student ambassador and would encourage future Honors students to become an Honors Outreach Ambassador."

Austin Adrian

Austin is graduating with University Honors and a B.B.A. in Accounting. He was engaged on campus through his role as an Honors Peer Mentor. Austin was also very involved in his professional fraternity Delta Sigma Pi. He studied abroad in Sydney during his time in college and completed tax internships with accounting firms in the Iowa City area.

"I would encourage you to get involved with as many aspects of the Honors program early on! Doing Honors Primetime, honors classes with other freshman, and living in Daum all helped to elevate my experience in Honors and led me to working with the program throughout college. I would also add to take as many honors classes as possible, even after the 12 semester hour requirement! Tippie has several core classes that offer honors sections, and I never regretted having honors sections for groupwork, presentations, etc!"

 

2020 Honors at Iowa Scholars

 

College of Engineering

Abhigna

During her time at the University of Iowa, Abhigna participated in research with Traumatic Brain Injuries and associated vision loss. Through her research, she collaborated on a publication. She was also involved with Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, and served as the President of Biomedical Engineering Student Society. In her junior year, Abhigna completed a summer internship with an Iowa City based engineering company. She also spent a semester in Lancaster, England, to aid in her personal and professional growth. 

"My biggest advice would be to open minded and to get to know as many people as you can. This university is filled with some of the greatest people and it is incredible when you get the opportunity to build lasting relationships with so many diverse people. I would encourage everyone to be apart of student organizations. It is an amazing way to meet people and learn more about something you're passionate about."

Russell

Russell Martin is from West Branch, IA, and has spent the last four years at Iowa pursuing a BSE in Biomedical Engineering. In that time, he has worked with three different research groups studying epilepsy, osteoarthritis, and the neuromuscular system. He studied abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, led two Hawkeye Service Breaks teams during spring breaks, and has been Co-President of the UI Robotics Club for the past two years.

Olivia

Olivia has performed research in the Anatomy and Cell Biology and Electrical Engineering departments. Her Honors engagement includes working as a Summer Ambassador and Peer Mentor. She has been actively involved in Tau Beta Pi and helped co-found the student organization HackIowa. In 2019, Olivia studied abroad in Glasgow, Scotland, and traveled to the Netherlands to participate in an international hackathon. Beyond the classroom, Olivia has had internships at Bio::Neos, Inc and 3M Company. In her free time, she volunteers at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in the Child Psychology inpatient unit.

"Reach out! There are many resources to take advantage of while you're here, but it can be challenging to navigate your options alone. We have a fantastic group of staff and students who are more than happy to help you find unique opportunities that fit your needs and desires! I also encourage students to become advocates for the things they're passionate about. In serving your community through advocacy or volunteerism, you can gain leadership skills, grow your support network, and help other students engage outside of the classroom. "

 College of Education

Clara

Clara is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in English Education. During her time at Iowa, she studied in Dublin, Ireland, for a summer. She is the Co-Founder of Nightfever Iowa City and spent much of her time at the Newman Catholic Student Center. Clara was also proudly involved at the Admission Visitors Center as a student employee and an executive member of Students to Assist Recruitment (STAR). 

"You are better able to appreciate the joys (and the challenges!) of college when you learn to roll with the punches and be open to change. Accept your imperfections and grow from them - don't waste time criticizing yourself, because no one is perfect! On a less serious note, take plenty of Honors classes and utilize the Blank Honors Center. You'll meet some of the best people this way. Lastly, I recommend that everyone gets to know Iowa City as much as they can. Wander through the public library, go to a reading at Prairie Lights, and go to as many free concerts downtown as you can. Iowa City truly is a unique place, and you only have so many years here. Don't take them for granted!"

 College of Nursing

Isabella Penniston, Nursing, Iowa City, IA

Isabella is a nursing student and will graduate with highest honors in May. She participated in nursing research focusing on telehealth cancer symptom management and symptom experiences of cancer patients with multiple chronic conditions. Isabella studied abroad in India, where she and other health science students learned about palliative and hospice care at a palliative health facility. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society and Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society.

"My advice to new Honors Program students would be to try everything, even if you're unsure about it. I would definitely encourage students to participate in research and to use their resources to find research they're interested in. Don't be afraid to ask professors if they do or know someone who does research in an area of your interest - you may be surprised at what you can find! I would also encourage students to study abroad, as the experiences and memories you make are unforgettable. "

 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Hunter Aldred, Human Physiology, Williamsfield, IL

While majoring in Human Physiology Hunter also worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Susan Lutgendorf's Psychoneuroimmunology Lab, helping establish biological constants associated with stress and ovarian cancer. He also worked as an Orientation Leader, Resident Assistant, and volunteered in the Burn Trauma Unit at UIHC. I would advise students entering the Honors Program to engage with as many aspects of the program as possible.

"Participating in Primetime and living in Daum were two of the best decisions I made. It made the transition to college easier and helped me find friends before classes start. But I also advise students to stay engaged with the Honors Program after their first year and reaching out to Honors Professional Staff. Getting to know the Professional Staff members and working as an Honors Outreach Ambassador kept me connected to the Program in my last two years and helped me grow as a scholar."

Hannah Altman, Political Science, McHenry, IL

Hannah is a Political Science and Social Justice major with research interests in international law. She has been studying international anti-terrorist law under Professor Brian Lai since 2017, and was able to research the topic abroad in Dublin, Ireland the summer of 2019. On campus, Hannah is a volunteer at the Women’s Resource and Action Center, the secretary of Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, and works for the Department of Biology!

"Appreciate the time you have! It has really hit me since the pandemic that I wasn't fully appreciating my time on campus, it goes so fast! Also, the honors program is such a great resource for community-building; I love my honors communities, whether it be my friends, relationships with faculty and staff, or my fellow honors outreach ambassadors, don't be afraid to put yourself out there and make connections. Finally, have some fun! School is important but build in time for yourself and take care of yourself!"

Barbara Badovinac, Microbiology, Iowa City, IA

As a microbiology major, Barbara did research on human cell stress, grew mosquitoes for malaria research, and tutored microbiology students.  Barbara volunteered on seven different units at the UIHC, serving on the Student Leader Board for two years.  She was the Vice-President of the Presidential-Scholars Program and a teaching assistant for a freshman seminar on self-discovery.  She also enjoyed rock climbing, volunteering at the International Women’s Club and learning about ASL and the Deaf Community.

"Be open-minded and keep trying new things.  I made sure to take a fun, random class every semester, even though they did not count towards a major or a minor.  You might learn a new skill or find a new hobby, as there are so many opportunities available for you to utilize!  Make sure you enjoy whatever you choose to do, and do not feel obligated to stick with something if you do not want to do it anymore."

Madhuri Belkale, Psychology, Political Science, Plano, TX

Madhuri will graduate with a B.S. in psychology and political science, as well as minors in Spanish and international studies. During her time at the University of Iowa, she was involved in research with the Clinical-Cognitive Science Lab, through which she wrote her honors thesis focusing on the relationship between casual sexual behavior (specifically short-term relationship motivation and long-term relationship motivation) and sexual misperception. Among her involvements, she has served in multiple leadership roles with the Indian Student Alliance and Phi Alpha Delta, studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, and worked as a peer mentor and admin for the Honors Program. 

"My advice would be for students to think about their education as a personal, professional, and academic growth experience. Don't think you have to pursue certain opportunities because they fit into what you are "supposed" to do, but instead seek out those that set your heart on fire and bring excitement to your core. There is no linear path to achieving success in college. Step out of your comfort zone and invest in meaningful relationships with professors, mentors, and friends. Lean in to whatever experiences and connections you find value in, and above all, believe in yourself. "

Genevieve Cleverley, Psychology, Studio Art, North Liberty, IA

Genevieve Cleverley is graduating with majors in psychology and studio art. At the University of Iowa, she has enjoyed working at the Honors Program as an admin and graphic designer, and at the Iowa Children's Museum. In her free time, she loves to volunteer for art-focused youth programs, printmaking, NPR podcasts, and petting dogs. 

"Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! There are so many opportunities to expand your horizons and challenge yourself. It's not always easy, but it's worth it! Being at the University of Iowa and in Honors gives you the chance to explore new perspectives, whether it's through learning in the classroom or checking out the art and music from Iowa City's creative community. Learn as much as you can, reframe mistakes as learning experiences, and don't be afraid to ask for help!"

Hannah Gulick, Astronomy, Physics, English & Creative Writing, Spirit Lake, IA

At Iowa, Hannah majored in astronomy, physics, and Creative Writing. She dedicated herself to research, building and launching two satellites and analyzing astrophysical data.
Outside of Iowa, she interned at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and built a sounding rocket at the Andøya Space Center in Norway. Hannah also served as an editor for Fool’s Magazine for two years, and treasures her time at Iowa, the people she met, and the teams she joined.

"Iowa is a place of opportunity. I would happily spend ten more years at Iowa experiencing the art, literature, and science in this town. My advice would be to try anything and everything—do not be afraid to go to that student org meeting, or apply for that fellowship, or ask to work with your dream research team. My favorite parts of college were the ones I never would have seen myself doing a year, or even week before. The people here want you to succeed and your Honors network will be a fantastic group for support, connections, and motivation."

Vijayvardahn Kamalumpundi, Human Physiology, Cedar Rapids, IA

Vijayvardhan's interest in the biological sciences stems from the translational relevance of his bench research in the Eric Taylor laboratory, where he sought to elucidate the function of a mitochondrial carrier and its role in metabolic diseases. He studied abroad in India through the Winterim program to explore Palliative Care and Global Healthcare delivery. His experiences in India were so cathartic that he published a narrative in an academic journal about the important relationship between humanism and medicine.

"The best advice I ever got early-on was to not be afraid of failure and getting rejected. Be relentless in searching for experiences that will make you a better student and better person. You'll be surprised at how much you learn and the connections that you will earn by simply throwing your name in the hat for a scholarship, competitive fellowship/program etc. The University of Iowa Honors Program has peer-mentors, who are students, just like you! They have thoroughly engaged themselves on campus and can point you to all kinds of resources for you to take advantage of depending on your interests so take advantage of them!!"

Rikki Laser, Neuroscience, Vernon Hills, IL

Rikki is a senior graduating from the neuroscience major. She came to the university excited for opportunity, and was ecstatic for the opportunity to join the Blumberg lab her freshman year. There, she helped study motor development in mice and found a passion in research. She hoped to share and grow that passion with others through her involvement in the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates, the Iowa Biosciences Academy, the Latham Science Engagement Initiative, the Department of Biology's Ambassador program, and more.

"Research has not only been the activity most relevant to my future, but it has also been the most rewarding and fun. I highly encourage students to try research in whatever field they are most interested in, whether it is in STEM, the arts, or the humanities.

For those interested in science, communication, and/or art, I also recommend the Latham Science Engagement Initiative. In the program, you get to make your own science communication project. Lori Adams, Brinda Shetty, and the TAs and staff are amazing guides through this process, and I thought it was not only a great learning experience, but an absolutely blast.

Otherwise, remember that this, too, shall pass. I am writing this near what I hope is the height of the coronavirus spread. My life, and no doubt yours, has been upturned. But I will still graduate, and you will still arrive, and with every day that passes we are closer to whatever the new normal will be. Take time to care for yourself, appreciate your friends and family (as difficult as that may be sometimes), and take these lessons into undergrad. It is not easy, especially the first couple years, but you can use this time to set yourself up for an amazing future.

Grades are not everything. Friends and family are important to your well-being, and your well-being is important to your success. Take everything as an opportunity to learn and grow. It's okay to not be okay.

I believe in you."

Michael Li, Biology, Bettendorf, IA

Michael is a Biology major with a Global Health Studies certificate. Interested in international health development, he spent a summer in Yunnan, China studying the effects of traditional healing practices in modern contexts. He is also an avid global vaccination program advocate, serving as Executive Director of the Immunity Campaign, and Iowa Champion Leader for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign. Finally, he was heavily involved in the Presidential Scholars Program and served as President. 

"Get involved! I can't point to any specific thing, because the activities I loved might not speak to everyone. There's so many opportunities at the University of Iowa that everyone can find something to engage in, whether that thing is a student org, research, student government, or more. "

Alex Marti, Health and Human Physiology, Chinese, Waukon, IA

Alex  grew up in northeast Iowa and is the oldest of seven children. Throughout her time at Iowa, she has participated in research in the lab of Dr. E. Dale Abel and taken part in various campus organizations. In addition, she has enjoyed volunteering in the Iowa City community. She has been involved in the Honors community by serving as an ambassador for the program.

"My greatest piece of advice is to get involved right away, even if you are nervous! I am so glad that I got involved in various activities right away my freshman year. It helped me to really refine my interests and make the most of my time at Iowa. "

Gabbie Meis, English & Creative Writing, Marion, IA

Gabbie studied English and Creative Writing on the publishing track with minors in translation and Spanish. During her time at Iowa, she pursued psychology research, worked as a writing fellow and TA, interned at the IYWP and UICA, and served on the editorial boards of UReCA—the National Collegiate Honors Council’s undergraduate journal, and locally, with Fools Magazine. In her free time, you can find Gabbie reading and baking bread with her cats.

"I would encourage incoming students to really make the university their home; the university is yours to take up space, be that in student orgs, in your courses, in the Iowa City community or wherever. When I first came to campus (and for many semesters after), I was worried I didn't belong. As a first-generation student, I didn't know what to expect from the university, and I felt lucky to even be in the same room as many of my peers and instructors. I was convinced that some form of chance and/or slight had permitted me conditional entrance to a college career. For this reason, I spent time hesitant and overly critical of myself, despite performing well and succeeding on campus. I'd challenge the next group of students coming into Iowa to trust that they belong here, despite their own doubts. Find organizations, friends, advisors, and people that you believe in and who believe in you in turn. If you're looking for a creative community, I'd highly recommend joining a campus magazine. Fools has shown me more than I could have imagined and introduced me to stunning life-long friends. "

Sheyna Nathwani, Biomedical Sciences, Grimes, IA

Sheyna is a fourth-year student majoring in Biomedical Sciences on the pre-medical track. She works as a research assistant in the Aldridge Laboratory studying Lewy body dementia. In 2018, she received a service scholarship to travel to Romania to work with handicapped infants. She has served as a teaching assistant for a biology class, biochemistry class, and for the Honors Outreach Ambassadors. She was also the 2019-2020 president of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.

"The Honors Program at Iowa is special in that it supports a tremendous variety of student interests and career plans. I think it is so important to engage in multiple activities you will truly enjoy. Honors helps you expand on your passions, so take advantage of this and get involved! The Honors professional staff and course offerings pushed me to reach out to laboratories at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. In addition, teaching in a classroom environment has always been an interest of mine - Honors helped me connect with professors and learn more about undergraduate teaching, allowing me to serve as a teaching assistant for three classes before graduating. My biggest piece of advice would be to attend those information sessions offered by Honors; engage with your peers; knock on the door of an Honors professional staff member. There are opportunities available for every individual. If you take small steps to get involved and communicate your interests, Honors will set you up for a successful college experience!"

Nicole Nucaro, Ethics and Public Policy, Interdepartmental Studies, Urbandale, IA

Nicole will graduate with degrees in Ethics and Public Policy and Interdepartmental Studies. During her time at Iowa, she served as a research assistant, a teaching assistant, a tour guide, a peer leader in the UI conversation center and the chair of the University Lecture Committee. She spent two semesters studying abroad in the Czech Republic, Australia and Argentina. Outside of class, Nicole could always be found attending campus events, at a local coffee shop or planning her next trip. 

"Get excited for your time at Iowa! Over the next four years, Iowa will become your home away from home and I can promise you that you'll make great friends and find so many interests you never knew you had. I'd encourage new students to go outside their comfort zone and sign up for clubs/events that the high school version of themselves would not have done. Take advantage of the Blank Honors Center and find friends that make the long study hours a little more fun. I'd encourage students to check out the UI conversation center (a great practicum class working with international students) and attend the lecture committee events! "

Laura Schwager, Interdepartmental Studies, Iowa City, IA

During her time as a non-traditional student at the University of Iowa, Laura created her own major to examine culture, sustainability, and design principles. Through the Honors Program she participated in the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, the Green Room, and Social Innovation practicums. She completed projects in film, environmental restoration, global health research, ethnography, community outreach, study abroad, and entrepreneurial consulting. Beginning as non-degree seeking student, Laura chose to complete her degree at the University of Iowa after experiencing the unique offerings of the institution. She views her undergraduate experience as an intimate, self-directed liberal arts education combined with the state of the art resources provided by a top-performing university.

"Advice to student entrants: These four years represent the most significant opportunity for growth in your life. Take risks. Prioritize self-knowledge and make time for reflection. Challenge your definition of "hard work". Remind yourself that your participation in this institution is a privilege, not a chore. If you can't find ownership in what you're doing, change what you're doing. Find funding - it's there - to go abroad or complete your own project. Learn something from everyone; spend time with those who teach you the most. By the time you depart, be absolutely certain that you have left no campus building unentered."

Josh Yem, Human Physiology, Music, Marion, IA

Josh is majoring in human physiology and music. He has been a research assistant in the University of Iowa Motor Control Laboratory for two years. The focus of his honors thesis is motor control and embodiment in pianists. He has also been an Honors Outreach Ambassador for several semesters. Josh also enjoys volunteering at UIHC playing piano in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and at the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic as a Spanish interpreter.

"I would encourage future Honors Program students to get involved early. It makes a tremendous difference in your educational experience to find interests and passions early on in your academic career."

2019 Honors at Iowa Scholars

Tippie College of Business

Logan Drake, Economics, Ethics & Public Policy, Philosophy Dubuque, IA


College of Engineering

Madeline Beauchene, Biomedical Engineering, Ames, IA

Aaron Buelow, Biomedical Engineering, West Des Moines, IA

Ojas Pradhan, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, West Des Moines, IA


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Mikaela Mallin, Biomedical Sciences, Dance, Waterloo, IA

Aleisha Norton, Biology, Psychology, Dubuque, IA

Liam Crawford, Computer Science, Philosophy, Stuart, IA

Angeline Vanle, Human Physiology, Sioux City, IA

Kathleen Kiesewetter - English, Art, Hanna City, IL

Meagan Woodard, Human Physiology, Mt. Pleasant, IA

Eli Bratsch-Prince, Political Science, Ames, IA

Jordan Hansen, Psychology, Communications Studies, Spencer, IA

Madeline Ungs, Human Physiology, Urbandale, IA

Cassidy Shubatt, Economics, Mathematics, Dubuque, IA

Austin Hughes, English and Creative Writing, Asian Languages and Literature, San Antonio, TX

Melissa Lauer, Art, English and Creative Writing, Des Moines, IA

Gustave Stewart, Political Science, Economics, Social Science Analytics, Iowa City, IA

Elizabeth Sheridan, English, Denver, IA

Eilidh Spery, English, Lakewood, CO

Nicholas Dolan, English, Des Moines, IA

Mila Kaut, Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, History, Music, Des Moines, IA