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Elizabeth Baran: English

Patton, PA
Major: English
Minor: Women's Studies

Formerly working as an intern, and now working full-time for the Washington, D.C. office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, a New York-based corporate law firm, Elizabeth Baran is making plans to go on to law school and intends one day to become an advisor in public policy. After a junior year internship with NASDAQ in Washington, D.C., followed by a year of study abroad at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University, and her present job, Elizabeth feels well prepared for such a career.

The idea of working in public policy was planted because of the community service requirement in the Honors College. My volunteer opportunities exposed me to a variety of social ills and incredibly dedicated social service professionals, which has ultimately influenced my future goals and interest in public policy. The Honors College uses the requirement to teach larger lessons about the social responsibility that comes with higher education - it is not simply necessary but should be expected that we freely give back to a community from which so many of us take so freely. The Honors College's own existence is the result of one man's commitment to improving the lives of students from the rust-belt communities in Western Pennsylvania. The beautiful metaphor and symmetry of that gift should not be lost on its recipients - the Honors College assures the constant reminder of that gift's bounty thru the community service requirement.

Elizabeth's experience in the Honors College was as rich and rewarding as she hoped when she first discovered it in her search for a college.

I was more intent on going to a private school with a good reputation but my introduction to the Honors College and its ambitious curriculum changed what I was looking for in a university setting. Now, given the benefit of several years and experiences with students from other honors programs across the country, I can say the Honors College differs because of its genuine attempt to build a community of scholars. I know that phrase seems overused in describing the Honors College experience, but there is no better, or more accurate way, to portray it. The students of this college live together in the same building, attend classes together, work on group projects together, attend fine arts events and lectures together, watch movies together, and ultimately seem to stay together when Core classes and the living requirement are completed. The first few weeks of college are both intimidating and overwhelming for a lot of students. Starting at the Honors College, where one immediately has a support network and community of caring, like-minded students makes that transition much easier. It's not claustrophobic, as it perhaps could seem to the casual observer. Because the Honors College exists within the larger university setting, each of its members creates an autonomous identity within his/her department, and benefits from the resources of the university. These resources include an extensive Greek system, numerous intramural sports teams, varied extracurricular and club organizations, and department-specific groups. So, members of the Honors College are also members of the IUP community and take full advantage of that entitlement.

As part of that entitlement, Elizabeth Baran found herself deeply touched by the questions in the Core curriculum.

The nature of the questions in Core challenge our essential understandings of the world in which we live and force us to confront those universal doubts about the nature of self, the existence of God, the creation of man, the meaning and truth of history, and the evolution of thought and aesthetics. Prior to Core, I lived a somewhat unexamined life, wasn't entirely motivated to read about currents events in the newspaper, let alone philosophical theory. Core not only changed my method of thinking but also permanently altered my willingness to listen and admit that there are alternative ways to view the world. Being right was no longer my ultimate goal - being heard and being rational was. Those questions were vitally important to the Honors College experience because they are formative in the development of personal morals, personal spirituality, personal goals, and personal academic interests. And the basic concepts of defending an idea will, of course, be valuable in law school and in my profession.

For Elizabeth Baran, a few events particularly stand out - the semester she became the first IUP finalist for the Truman Scholarship and the year of study at Oxford -- but there is one honor that means even more.

Being the first Truman Scholarship Finalist the university produced was a huge honor, as was having the opportunity to represent IUP at Oxford University during a year of study abroad. Oxford has such a unique system of colleges, very similar to the Honors College. If I hadn't had the experience of Core, where vocalization of ideas and writing abilities are emphasized, I wouldn't have been able to do as well as I ultimately did. Despite these trophy-type successes, knowing that I can serve as a role model for present undergraduates and for perspective students remains my greatest personal accomplishment. Being able to give back to the Honors College that helped provide me with life-3altering experiences and an extraordinary education completes the symmetry of that gift we received from Robert E. Cook when he established the Honors College. As an English major, I feel compelled to end with a quote. Henry David Thoreau said 'If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost: that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.' The Honors College was my foundation and I hope to be part of the foundation for others.

Elizabeth’s Accomplishments

Academic Distinction/Awards

  • 2000 IUP Graduating Women's Leadership Award
  • Summa cum Laude Graduate
  • Provost Scholar
  • Outstanding English Major Awar
  • Presidential Excellence Scholarship, 1997-2000
  • Appeared in Time Magazine's Fall 1998 "The Best College for You" feature on Honors Colleges
  • Recipient of State System of Higher Education Women's Undergraduate Leadership Scholarship
  • Pennsylvania education grant recipient to design Women's Suffrage presentation and course curriculum, 1998
  • Dean's List (all semesters)


  • Junior year internship with NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc., Washington, DC
  • Senior year internship with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, New York-based corporate law firm

Study Abroad

  • St. Edmund Hall, Oxford University--Junior Year
  • Conferences/Presentations:
  • Honors Senior Synthesis Program in Vienna, Austria
  • Co-chair of First Women's Health Care Symposium, "Taking Care: Women and Health in the 21st Century," March 1998
  • East Central Writing Association Conference, May, 1997, presented research on cross-medium gender communication and published article, "Sex in the Center" through Purdue University