Winning a national award would be a humbling experience for anybody. That was certainly the case for Elizabeth Paladin when she was selected as the fourth IUP recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in the past five years.
“My initial reaction was one of excitement and some surprise,” Paladin said. “Of course, I was not counting on winning the scholarship, and I was greatly honored.” Across the nation, 317 Goldwater scholarships were awarded to sophomores and juniors for the 2007-2008 year.
Larry, Phyllis (center), and Elizabeth Paladin
Paladin, now a junior chemistry major and member of the Robert E. Cook Honors College, first heard about the scholarship when she was a prospective student. A chemistry major had previously won the Goldwater, and the fact caught Paladin’s attention, “because it is an extremely well-respected national scholarship. I was very impressed.”
Honors College administrators and professors—especially Mary Lou Zanich—played a large role in Paladin’s initial decision to apply for the scholarship. Zanich, Psychology Department chairperson and IUP’s Goldwater faculty advisor, provided practical, step-by-step guidance in the application process. “The faculty members convinced me I was capable of competing for this national scholarship and offered encouragement,” Paladin said. “Dr. Zanich gave me invaluable advice.”
And it paid off in the end, with Paladin’s receiving $7,500 each year to cover school-related expenses. “The greatest benefit in my mind, however, is that this award will equip me to be more competitive when I apply to graduate schools,” she said.
Paladin has been working since the spring semester with the Chemistry Department’s Heba Abourahma, researching a way to modify the physical properties of a compound through co-crystallization. Her work has allowed her to understand that “science often does not proceed as quickly as I would like it to, and we shouldn’t become discouraged when the progress is painstakingly slow.”
Working with Abourahma as an undergraduate, Paladin has had the hands-on experience of which most other students her age could only dream. This opportunity is helping her work toward her goal of being involved in pharmaceutical research. “I hope to use the knowledge I am gaining in this research project to fuel my career decisions in the future.” A main criterion for the award is the student’s interest in empirical research within a field of hard science. “I hope that this project continues to guide my decisions.”
The Pittsburgh native was primarily attracted to IUP because of the Honors College program. “I was impressed by the genuine concern for students that was expressed by the administrators and professors I encountered on my prospective visit. I recognized that this would be a place for me to thrive, not only academically, but personally, as well.” The Honors College seemed like a place Paladin could see herself attaining her goals. “I have not regretted my decision,” she said.
With an already full plate, Paladin finds time to serve as treasurer of the IUP Student Affiliate of the American Chemical Society, to tutor freshman chemistry students, and to participate in activities that build the science education community in Indiana. In her spare time, she plays in the IUP Cello Choir and serves on the Whitmyre Residence Hall Council.