BVU Honors Institute Innovation Fellows Eye Global Work Experiences

Four BVU students have been awarded $5,000 to follow their research, scholarship, and creative curiosity. Four more students will earn additional awards this spring.

Four students from Buena Vista University's Honors Institute were awarded $5,000 this fall to follow their research, scholarship, and creative curiosity. These Innovation Fellows will use fellowship funds, provided through the Collier Endowment, in an extended learning opportunity beyond BVU during the summer of their sophomore or junior year.

Four additional $5,000 awards are set to be presented to BVU Innovation Fellows in spring 2020, again, courtesy of the Collier Endowment, which has allowed the University to enhance its Honors Institute programming and awards.

“President (Joshua) Merchant made this a presidential initiative, to increase the University’s commitment to the Honors Institute, says Dr. Amy Barth, Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Honors Institute. “We are so grateful for the resources shared with the University and made available for the first time in this manner through an Innovation Fellows program. This is a wonderful way for us to reward students for the ambitious proposals they’ve put forth.”

“I’m really excited that Dr. Barth is challenging the Honors Institute students to be competitive, not just here at BVU, but nationally as well."

Grace Meyers

Those selected as Innovation Fellows include Anthony Baird, pre-dentistry major; Marshall Gonnerman, business major; Grace Meyers, social work major; and Taylor Raibikis, music education—vocal track major.

Meyers, a sophomore from Carroll, plans to spend her time as an Honors Institute Innovation Fellow in Copenhagen, Denmark, working with the Red Cross of Copenhagen to complete an eight-week social work internship focused on international immigration.

Meyers, who works closely with her mentor, Barth, is an active presence on the BVU campus, having multiple theatre roles as well as those within the Student Activities Board and Orientation Team.

“I’m really excited that Dr. Barth is challenging the Honors Institute students to be competitive, not just here at BVU, but nationally as well,” Meyers says.

Taylor Raibikis, a freshman from Panora who participates in choir and Student Activities Board when not volunteering at Storm Lake Elementary School, seeks to spend eight weeks teaching music in a rural region of South America.

“I believe music is the one great unifier; it is a universal language,” she says. “It is important to teach music wherever possible and inspire students with its message. I think this experience will truly change my outlook on many perspectives and jumpstart my career in education.”

Baird, a sophomore from Moville who competes in track and cross country at BVU, plans to head to India to participate in an eight-week dental program through the International Volunteer Headquarters in the province of Kochi, India.

Gonnerman, a freshman from Waverly who plays on the BVU soccer team, aims to complete an eight-week business internship with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in Zurich, Switzerland.

Other students in the Buena Vista University Honors Institute take part in internships or experiential learning opportunities in places such as Custer State Park in South Dakota; the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota; and The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

BVU Honors students also participate in smaller seminar-format classes covering a wide ride of subjects drawn from each of the University’s four schools: Business, Science, Liberal Arts, and Education. Honors students often present a research project for their peers, on a topic of their choosing, with research funding provided by BVU.

“The goal is to move more and more research projects to publication,” says Barth, “as students build upon even more collaboration between the Honors Institute and BVU faculty.”