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Lyon junior receives selective Goldwater Scholarship

Lyon College junior Hannah Zang has received the Goldwater Scholarship.

The scholarship gives financial support to college sophomores and juniors who show “exceptional promise of becoming this nation’s next generation of natural sciences, mathematics and engineering research leaders,”, according to goldwater.scholarsapply.org. It is limited to students who intend to enter Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D programs, and the funds are applied to students’ final years of college.

A press release from the Goldwater Foundation says that over 5,000 sophomores and juniors applied this year. Zang was one of 396 students from across the United States selected by the Goldwater Board of Trustees.

“I was pretty much in absolute shock,” she said. “The weeks leading up to it felt like this looming deadline where I would find out my fate.”

Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Alexander Beeser, the Goldwater Campus Representative for Lyon, said the Goldwater Scholarship is “the premier undergraduate research award in the country in terms of prestige and effect.”

Beeser said Zang was one of only three students selected from Arkansas institutions this year.

“To the best of my knowledge, she is the first student from Lyon to ever be selected.”

As a Goldwater Scholar, Zang now has access to communication with past and current scholars to connect and learn about each other’s research.

“I’ve met a lot of really cool people. One of them just released a study about the coronavirus and asked if I would be interested in participating.”

She is also considering attending the conference for Goldwater Scholars next year in order to meet her fellow scholars.

Zang was surprised to receive the award because she plans to enroll in a dual program after college to obtain both a Ph.D. and a doctorate of osteopathic medicine (D.O.). She had heard D.O. programs were not usually considered by the Goldwater Scholarship and found that most past recipients were M.D./Ph.D. students while researching the award.

“I wasn’t sure I had a chance. I feel like now I can encourage other students who want to take the D.O. path.”

Zang said a D.O. program seemed like the logical choice for her after her health coaching program.

“I want to feel more connected with my future patients, and, in terms of philosophy, I really like the D.O. approach.”

Zang is thankful for Beeser and Dr. Nagayasu Nakanishi, who she conducted research with at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville last summer with the IDeA Network for Biomedical Excellence (INBRE), for mentoring her throughout her undergraduate research career.

“I’d also like to thank [Director of Career Services] Annette Castleberry. She helped me a lot, especially the couple days before I got the news. She witnessed my anxiety firsthand and kept it together for the both of us.”

Zang said it was a relief to get such good news during the coronavirus crisis.

“This month has been pretty much roadblock after roadblock. On top of moving back home, two of my grandfathers passed away this month.”

She concluded, “Finding out this news was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It made me feel like I can get through this.”