READING, Pa. — Chris Brendel, a junior majoring in Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State Berks, recently was awarded the prestigious Beinecke Scholarship. He was selected as the University’s sole student nominee for 2013 and he is only the second Penn State student to receive the award in the 22-year history of the Beinecke Scholarship. He is the first Penn State student to receive the award from a campus outside University Park.
Each year, approximately 100 colleges and universities are invited to nominate a student for a Beinecke Scholarship, and 20 new scholarships were awarded in 2013. Each school invited to participate in the Beinecke Scholarship Program is permitted to make a single nomination each year.
Each scholar receives $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.
Brendel was nominated for the Beinecke Scholarship by Ruth Mendum, director of the University Fellowship Office at Penn State's University Park campus. Mendum chose Brendel from the pool of Penn State student candidates based on the rigorous criteria of the scholarship.
Mendum cited Brendel’s combination of a high grade-point average, high level of commitment to research and intention to pursue a doctorate in arts and humanities as a few of the factors that made his application rise to the top. He is also a Penn State Schreyer Scholar.
Brendel also was recently awarded the highly competitive summer internship in the Research Training Program at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He will be working with two curators at the Smithsonian to identify the influence that Spanish has had on an indigenous language called Juchitán Zapotec. They will also look at changes in the phonology of the language.
“In addition to his superior academics and commitment to research, Chris took extra coursework; he is currently studying abroad in Leeds (England). It’s really the whole package: academics, commitment to research, extracurricular activities and intention to pursue a graduate degree in the arts and humanities,” explained Mendum, who worked closely with Michele Kirsch, associate dean of Student Affairs at the Schreyer Honors College, as well as Sandy Feinstein, honors coordinator at Penn State Berks.
Mendum credits Feinstein for working with Brendel for a year before he applied for the Beinecke Scholarship, stating that it is important for students applying for these types of scholarships to develop a research plan, enroll in supplemental and study abroad programs, and get involved in extracurricular activities.
“The most important thing for students who want to apply for these types of scholarships is to start working with the University Fellowship Office early, and for students at campuses to reach out to their campus honors coordinators,” said Mendum.
"It's an incredible feeling to know that I already have money for graduate school,” said Brendel. “I'm so thankful for this award, and I feel truly honored to represent Penn State Berks and Penn State University as a whole. As a student at Penn State Berks, I know that simultaneously having the support of the Berks campus community and the resources of the University were fundamental to my receiving the award."
To be eligible for a Beinecke Scholarship, a student must have demonstrated superior standards of intellectual ability, scholastic achievement and personal promise during his or her undergraduate career; be a college junior pursuing a bachelor's degree during the 2012-13 academic year; and plan to enter a master's or doctoral program in the arts, humanities or social sciences. In addition, nominees must be a United States citizen or a United States national from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; and they must have a documented history of receiving need-based financial aid during his or her undergraduate years.
The Beinecke Scholarship Program was established in 1971 by the Board of Directors of The Sperry and Hutchinson Co. to honor Edwin, Frederick and Walter Beinecke. The board created an endowment to provide substantial scholarships for the graduate education of young men and women of exceptional promise. The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Since 1975 the program has selected more than 500 college juniors from more than 100 different undergraduate institutions for support during graduate study at any accredited university.