DANBURY, CT - Western Connecticut State University seniors Sarah Hoegler and Melanie Jones are the recipients of this year’s Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award for their outstanding academic achievement, on-campus participation and dedication to community involvement. Each year, 12 graduating seniors enrolled in Connecticut state universities (Central Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Southern Connecticut State University and WestConn) are presented with the prestigious award.
In addition to the Honors Program, Jones has maintained a packed schedule of organization involvement as an academic resource mentor through Housing and Residential Life, member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, senior standards representative of Sigma Delta Tau sorority and president of the Percussion Club. “The friends I have created memorable bonds with, the projects I have pursued, the connections I have made, they have all, collectively, made my time at WCSU absolutely unforgettable,” said Jones. “My passion is undoubtedly travel and I have been to five continents so far. I want to travel for the rest of my life and I hope to continue exploring the world, while learning and growing as much as possible. Being able to travel and teach internationally would be my absolute dream.”
Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Awards
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Hoegler had the rare opportunity to be homeschooled by her mother growing up. This helped her learn self-discipline and self-motivation. She chose WestConn because of the convenience to commute and stay close to her home, and thrived because of the Psychology Department and Honors Program. “At the end of my second semester here, I asked Professor of Psychology Dr. Mary Nelson if I could get involved in her research and she said yes. She also suggested I apply for the Honors Program so that I could do research with her as an honors enhancement,” said Hoegler. From this, Hoegler and Nelson have been able to present and publish research that has helped to make a difference in the classroom for students at WestConn and other universities. “After seeing the ways that our different classroom activities and interventions produced real improvements statistically in students’ performance, I’m really glad that we’ve been able to get our research out there — through an article, several presentations and an eBook chapter — because I want our work to help struggling students at other schools as well,” she said.
Hoegler said the most important aspect she learned while at WestConn is that a setback can be used as a stepping stone to be more humble. “I’ve learned that there is no room for pride in academia, or the pursuit of truth in general — it’s really about humility, about finding where you’re wrong/in need of improvement and using that as a springboard for growth. Learning to get back up after setbacks has helped me to see challenges as motivating rather than disheartening. Throughout my studies here, I’ve really learned to love challenges, rather than shy away from them.”
Jones and Hoegler received their awards on April 17 in Plantsville.
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