YSU students earn top national, global honors

Two Youngstown State University students earned academic recognitions this week that are among the highest in the nation and the world.

Emily Henline of Austintown, a YSU senior, was named a scholar in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, considered to be one of the most widely recognized and prestigious scholarships in the world.

And junior Alexandra Ballow of Deshler, Ohio, was selected for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a premiere national award for undergraduate students in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering.

“On behalf of the entire university, congratulations to Emily and Alexandra for these incredible academic achievements,” said Brien Smith, YSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “These awards not only reflect your talent and hard work, but the commitment and expertise of our faculty and everyone here at YSU.”

Emily Henline posing with a mascot
YSU student and newly-named Fulbright Scholar Emily Henline with the mascot for Yonsei University in South Korea in 2017.

A graduate of Austintown Fitch High School, Henline enrolled at YSU in 2015 and is double-majoring in English and Education (Integrated Language Arts, 7-12), with a minor in Linguistics and a TESOL Endorsement.

She will use the Fulbright award to study for a master’s degree in Korean Studies at Yonsei University in South Korea beginning this fall. (Note: Henline could defer her studies until Spring 2021, depending on the status of the coronavirus pandemic.)

“I cannot even tell you how thrilled I am to hear this news,” Ann Gardner, assistant director of the International Programs Office at YSU, said in an email to Henline. “I wish we could celebrate in person. You are an excellent candidate, and you deserve this award.”

It will be a return trip to South Korea for Henline. She spent the 2017-18 academic year studying abroad at Yonsei University in Seoul as a Gilman Scholar, focusing on Korean history, cultures and language. Her Fulbright study will focus on linguistic imperialism and Korean language identity.

“I am so honored to receive this award and to represent YSU on the international stage,” she said. “I could not have done it without the amazing support of so many people at YSU. Thanks to all.”

Henline’s application was endorsed by YSU’s Fulbright Campus Committee, comprised of Nathan Myers, associate provost for International and Global Initiatives; Ann Gardner, assistant director, International Programs Office; Carly Devenburgh, assistant director for International Student and Scholar Services, International Programs Office; and Stephanie Smith, Fulbright Fellow 1995-96, interim chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and professor of Art History. Her application was also endorsed by her referees, faculty members M. Kathleen Cripe, associate professor of Teacher Education, and Nicole Pettitt, assistant professor of English, with the recommendation of Stacy Graber, associate professor of English, and with assistance from Stephanie Smith, professor of Art.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, started in 1946, offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. Fewer than 2,000 awards are presented annually.

Alexandra Ballow
Alexandra Ballow

Ballow, a mathematics and physics double major at YSU, is among only 396 college students nationwide to receive the Goldwater Scholarship this year, from a field of 1,343 mathematics, science and engineering students from 461 colleges and universities. In total, 16 Ohio residents were selected. Ballow will receive a $7,500 one-year award.

Ballow completed research at the Berkeley National Labs for the past two summers under the advisement of Alina Lazar, professor of Computer Science, and has worked on research problems under the advisement of Alicia Prieto, associate professor of Mathematics, since her first semester at YSU, and more recently Physics faculty members, Donald Priour and Michael Crescimanno.

“Research with faculty has defined my YSU experience," Ballow said. "I have been doing research on campus since my first week here. I will never be able to thank all of these mentors, especially those who took a risk on my abilities. I would never have even applied for this award without them.” Ballow plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics after graduating YSU. Her career goals include teaching at the university level and conducting research in how abstract algebra relates to quantum mechanics.

She is the eighth YSU student to receive the Goldwater Scholarship since 1997. Four students have also received honorable mentions. All 12 have also been members of the YSU Honors College.

“The award serves as a testament to both Alex's dedication to developing broad research experiences and amazing YSU faculty members who enabled her to have these opportunities,” said Tom Wakefield, chair of Mathematics and campus Goldwater representative. “My thanks to her advisors, Drs. Lazar and Prieto, as well as all YSU faculty and staff who work tirelessly to provide our students with opportunities and experiences that are unparalleled.”

Established in 1986, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program is named in honor of the former U.S. senator who served for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the Senate. The purpose of the program is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding one- and two-year scholarships—covering the cost of tuition, books and room and board up to $7,500 a year—to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.