09:27 AM

Ohio State awards President’s Prize to two outstanding scholars

Graduating seniors’ projects focus on changing the achievement gap in education and addressing the technical barriers to success for the physically disabled

The Ohio State University has selected two graduating seniors as recipients of the 2020 President’s Prize for their dedication to improving people’s lives through the power of accessible educational experiences.

Simone Bacon, of Chicago, and Jen Schlegel, who is from Coshocton, each will receive a $50,000 living stipend and up to $50,000 in startup funding through the President’s Prize, the highest university recognition bestowed on exceptional students committed to social change. They will each work with faculty mentors and other experts, while sharing their ideas and experiences with Ohio State’s global community of alumni, supporters and partners.

“Jen and Simone continue our university’s proud tradition of impact and excellence here at home and around the world,” said Ohio State President Michael V. Drake. “Thousands of lives have been changed for the better by our Buckeye community, and many more will be impacted because of these two incredible, compassionate scholars.”

Schlegel and Bacon were selected from among a group of applicants who submitted ideas for projects with the potential to make a meaningful impact on society, and that furthered the university’s mission of addressing some of the world’s most important and pressing challenges.

Schlegel, who will earn her degree in biomedical engineering from the College of Engineering, will lead a team in developing Handicom, a software/mobile application that facilitates the connection between ideas and written work. It’s a finger tap-based with a built-in library, allowing for the import of homework, images, diagrams, equations and more.

“More than 40 million Americans have limited dexterity, and I’m one of them, with good use of four of my 10 fingers,” Schlegel said. “When I struggled academically, some people expected me to temper my career goals. A perspective shift is needed, and I am so excited to work with, and on behalf of, the disability community to help them grow and accomplish more.”

Bacon, who will graduate with a degree from the College of Public Health, will be working on UnC.A.G.ED (Changing the Achievement Gap in Education), which strives to increase parent-child early talk and remove barriers to early learning among disadvantaged populations in Columbus. The project aims to recruit infants and their families who identify as low-income or represent a racial or ethnic minority. It will use a three-pronged approach: Baby Book Bundles, a language analysis intervention program and student volunteers.

“Children are our future – what we invest in them today will determine the promise of our tomorrow and they are worth every bit of the investment,” Bacon said. “Through our dedication to service and holistic support, my project team will work to leave remarkable impacts on the children we serve.”

Now in its fourth year, the President’s Prize honors Ohio State’s founding purpose of offering an excellent education while elevating society through research — a reflection of the university motto, “Education for Citizenship.” Awarded annually, the prize is funded solely through donor contributions.

For more information on the prize, see https://presidentsprize.osu.edu/.

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