The Honors College is pleased to announce Oregon State University Honors College senior Paris Myers as the 2022 winner of the Joe Hendricks Honors College Scholarship for Academic Excellence. Josh Brenne, Angelina Conrow, Clare Jayawickrama and Maya Livni have been named runners-up for the distinguished award, established in honor of the founding dean of the Honors College, Joe Hendricks.
Created by alumni and friends upon Dean Hendricks’s retirement, the Hendricks Scholarship recognizes outstanding Honors College students for their academic accomplishments, research and campus engagement, and this year, a record 36 students were nominated by faculty — the most in the scholarship’s history. Of those nominated, a scholarship committee selected one honors student, Paris, who received a $2,500 scholarship. Students selected as runners-up each received $500 prizes.
“I was completely surprised and completely honored,” Paris says, recalling her feelings when she first learned she had been selected as this year’s winner. “It’s an incredibly humbling selection and a joy to stand beside the other 35 amazing students who were nominated.”
Paris — a double-major in bioengineering and fine art, with minors in popular music and art history — has spent her years in the Honors College involved in a myriad of research and work opportunities, which have taken her from charitable work in Corvallis to an ongoing internship in Boston, Massachusetts.
Her thesis, “The Age of Embodiment: A Transmutational, Networked, Arts and Engineering Research Practice,” which she defended in May of 2022, was deeply informed, she says, by her time as a visiting undergraduate research intern at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, an internship she began in May 2021 and has continued remotely throughout the 2021-22 academic year. The project involves the design of new research frameworks and sculptural robotic devices that situate our humanity — and our implicit and explicit emotional and physical selves — as parameters in design and engineering. The freedom to immediately begin research work without first securing an internship, however, is something Paris has found unique to the Honors College experience — and the most valuable part of being an honors student. “The professors are genuinely excited to help you mobilize and actualize your research questions and interests.”
After graduation, Paris will be joining the biomechatronics laboratory at the MIT Media Lab, and the nomination for the Hendricks Scholarship has felt empowering for the future full-time researcher. “Creating change takes a community,” Paris says. “What this scholarship means to me is that the Honors College is saying ‘We see you, we hear you and we stand behind you.’”
An emphasis on community is something runner-up Josh Brenne, a senior studying biochemistry and molecular biology, understands well. “Figuring out what I would do for my thesis was really a multi-year process that involved a deep desire to learn more about myself and the communities I’ve spent time with [and explore the] academic interests I had in psychology in general and personal identity development in particular, with incredible help developing this idea from mentors all along the way,” Josh says.
Josh is the former co-president of the Asian Pacific American Student Union and is currently a leadership liaison at the OSU Asian and Pacific Cultural Center. He also works in the community as a certified nursing assistant in a care home in Corvallis.
“I am incredibly grateful for the recognition of the work I have done throughout my time in college,” Josh says. “It means that at least some people have been impacted by my work, and I want to continue making an impact for as long as I can.”
For fellow runner-up Angelina Conrow, a senior double majoring in psychology and English, serving others during her time as an undergraduate has been a priority — and one that is perfectly aligned with her career aspirations. She has previously created content for virtual mental health prevention with a start-up company and now works as a crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line and as an active volunteer with the Newman Center. After graduating from OSU, she plans to further her education with the goal of one day opening her own counseling clinic, noting a lack of mental health services as her motivation.
“I was definitely surprised,” she says of her nomination. “I know there are a lot of really talented and accomplished students in the Honors College, so I am very honored to be a runner up for this award.”
Angelina was nominated by her honors thesis mentor, Dr. Regan A. R. Gurung, who oversaw the research for her thesis, “Asian American Women and Clothing Perceptions: A Study of Intersectionality,” in which Angelina examined prejudice and clothing type, focusing specifically on stereotypes of Asian American women. This project, she says, has been the most enjoyable part of her Honors College experience. “I never thought I would enjoy research as much as I have, and it’s been a really rewarding experience to be able to conceptualize and work on a project from start to finish.”
Like Angelina, runner-up Clare Jayawickrama was taken by surprise when hearing of her nomination for the Hendricks Scholarship, sharing that the recognition has brought her more than just financial gain: “It is affirming to have my presence and engagement in the Honors College be recognized.”
An OSU junior majoring in bioengineering, Clare currently works as an undergraduate assistant in the lab of Dr. Stephan Giovannoni in the Department of Microbiology, a peer mentor for the OSU Stem Leaders Program, the student music coordinator for the Newman Center and a volunteer with the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.
She is also working on her honors thesis — an examination of the impacts of oxygenase enzyme activity on seasonal hypoxia events on the Oregon Coast — under the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Giovannoni. A profound benefit of being part of the honors community, she says, has been the support she’s received throughout the development of her thesis and the opportunities it has provided her to explore the work of both Oregon State faculty and students.
The relationships she’s formed in and through the Honors College, though, have enriched her overall experience at OSU: “There are always so many events happening — from my involvement in the Honors College Student Association to taking various colloquia — through which I have been able to meet fellow students from different fields and majors that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
Runner-up Maya Livni shares a similar appreciation for community building. From volunteering with Stone Soup and Community Outreach, Inc., to holding positions as the Honors College Student Association president and Biochemistry Club vice president, the third-year biochemistry and molecular biology major’s involvement with campus programs has been extensive. She has also worked as a learning assistant for Principles of Biology, the program coordinator for the Honors College “Forgot Your Lunch?” program and a volunteer for the Adaptive Exercise Clinic.
For her honors thesis, she is stepping outside of her primary field of study to explore the gut microbiome and how it can be altered to remedy central nervous system disorder symptoms. The project, she says, has presented an opportunity to branch out and dive into a topic she has had a growing interest in.
As an honors student, Maya shares that it isn’t uncommon to go above and beyond both in and out of the classroom — or to see her peers do the same. Being nominated for the Hendricks Scholarship, however, has reminded her of the extraordinary work she has put in throughout her undergraduate career thus far: “This honor forces me to pause for a minute and actually be proud of what I am doing. It is a nice sense of validation that the work I do is important for my community and myself, and it gives me new energy to continue to work hard to make small changes in the environments I live within.”