The Honors College is pleased to announce that Julia Zavala, a fourth-year biology major on a pre-medical track, was selected as the recipient of the 2021 Joe Hendricks Honors College Scholarship for Academic Excellence. Ashley Francis, Madeleine Seifert and Shrida Sharma were named runners-up for this prestigious award.
Each year, the Hendricks Scholarship recognizes outstanding Honors College students for their academic accomplishments, research and campus engagement. Faculty members are invited to nominate students, and winners – who receive a $2,500 scholarship award – are selected by an Honors College committee.
The award is named for Joe Hendricks, the founding dean of the Honors College, and it was created by alumni and friends to acknowledge Dean Hendricks upon his retirement.
Julia says she was “super excited” when she learned she was the first-place recipient of the Hendricks Scholarship. She is president of the OSU Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, co-chair of the OSU chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán and a student assistant at the diversity office at Oregon State, in addition to her academic and research pursuits.
Julia’s favorite thing about the Honors College, she says, has been the chance to conduct thesis research. Her thesis examines disparities in seeking help for depression in college students of color, and she has worked with mentor Dr. David Kerr from the School of Psychological Science, who nominated her for the scholarship. She will be defending her thesis research this spring.
“These are the things I’m most passionate about, and that’s definitely been my favorite part about the Honors College,” Julia says.
While the cash prize is welcome, Julia says she feels particularly grateful to be recognized. “It meant a lot to be recognized for all the hard work I’m doing, especially since it’s my last term here. It’s kind of like ending with a bang.”
Fourth-year psychology and pre-med student and Hendricks Scholarship runner-up Shrida Sharma shared this sentiment with Julia: “I was really excited — it really just gives me the recognition I didn’t think I needed,” she says.
Shrida is a cartoonist for the OSU school newspaper The Daily Barometer, a media assistant and ambassador for the Honors College, a Zumba instructor at Dixon Recreation Center, a research assistant in the Interpersonal Sensitivity Lab, a volunteer at the Community Outreach, Inc. free medical clinic and is involved with the pre-medical society and intramural soccer. She defended her honors thesis about childhood sports and personality development on April 21; however, it was a project she started after taking an honors colloquium course that sparked her nomination.
During the colloquium One Small Ladleful: Poetry of Hunger, Shrida was inspired to conduct a chalk walk — a series of written chalk designs that formed a path leading to a booth providing information and resources — to raise awareness about food insecurity using hunger-related poetry on campus. She completed the project with Dr. Stella Coakley and Dr. Hiram Larew, the leaders of the colloquium, who both nominated her for the Hendricks Scholarship.
Though Shrida says “there’s so much” she loves about the Honors College, her favorite part has been the community. “That’s something that I really value because I’ve found a lot of diverse aspects in our community and just having so many people there to support [me],” Shrida says. “It really pushed me to do everything that I can and really make my experience in college worth it.”
Hendricks runner-up Ashley Francis is a fourth-year biohealth sciences major on the pre-med track. “Being in the Honors College has definitely been one of my favorite experiences of my entire undergraduate career,” Ashley says. “I think it’s provided me with an opportunity to experience undergrad in a way that I wouldn’t anywhere else.”
For her honors thesis, Ashley has studied the differences in maternal characteristics for transfers to the hospital before childbirth with mentor Dr. Marit Bovbjerg from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. In addition to her studies and thesis work, Ashley is a peer advisor for the College of Science, a learning assistant for the general physics course series, a co-founder of the College of Science student group for people of color, a University Legislative Scholar, a Core Values Committee member for the Department of Microbiology and a medical scribe for the Oregon Clinic.
Ashley says she was “surprised” when she learned she had earned the scholarship but is deeply thankful. “I’m super grateful for the scholarship and all of the other opportunities that have been afforded to me by the Honors College and by the other people who have made it possible for me to succeed here at OSU.”
Like Ashley, second-year biochemistry and molecular biology student Madeleine Seifert says she was shocked to learn she was a runner-up for the Hendricks Scholarship: “I honestly was really surprised — I was proud in that moment.”
Madeleine helps conduct research in two different labs on campus: one within the College of Public Health and Human Sciences and one in the College of Pharmacy. She is also certified as a mental health first aid instructor, holds office in her sorority Sigma Delta Omega and in the Associated Students of Oregon State University House of Representatives, participates in the Pre-Medicine Club and recently began hospice volunteering.
Madeleine says her favorite part of the Honors College has been the connections it has helped her make. Madeleine is currently in the brainstorming phase of her thesis and is hoping to pursue a project concerning empathy in healthcare settings.
Like the other recipients, Madeleine was overjoyed at being recognized for her hard work with the Hendricks Scholarship. She explains that it helped her realize she is going in the right direction: “Having that sort of recognition has been really calming in a way.”
By: Christopher McCracken