Taylor Young selected as University’s Beinecke Scholarship nominee

Sean Yoder
March 03, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Taylor Young, of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, is this year’s Penn State nominee for the Beinecke Scholarship, a highly competitive national scholarship in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Young majors in secondary English education with minors in English and educational policy studies. The junior has demonstrated research ability in her field, working most recently under Rayne Sperling, associate dean of undergraduate and graduate studies in the College of Education and professor of education.

Under Sperling, Young has worked on “Missions with Monty,” described as a game-based approach to teaching fifth-grade students science and comprehension monitoring.

Portrait of Taylor Young

Taylor Young

IMAGE: Penn State

“As part of this team, I’ve had the chance to think about teaching and learning in a game environment and develop assessment items for the game,” Young said. “In addition, I’ve had the pleasure of learning from and working with a team that includes graduate students and faculty from both Penn State University and North Carolina State University.”

Sperling praised Young’s enthusiasm, competency and positive attitude.

“Taylor is arguably the strongest undergraduate student, among many thousands at three research universities, that I have worked with in my career,” Sperling said.

Sperling also pointed out that unlike many other undergraduates in her area of scholarship pursuing graduate school, Young has experience working on large-scale funded projects with scholars from several institutions and is well-positioned to take on graduate work.

In addition to praising Young for her scholarly work, Sperling said Young is also an “exceptional person.”

“She is always positive. Literally. I have never seen her behave without grace," said Sperling.

“I am extremely grateful for Dr. Rayne Sperling and her mentorship,” Young said. “She provided me this opportunity to work as a member of her team, which transformed my educational and professional goals.”

Young said when she first began her degree in secondary English education, she imagined that she would graduate in four years and teach in or close to her hometown of Lansdale. Now, she said, she wants to contribute to the academic community and continue research in the field of educational psychology and earn a doctoral degree.

“Having the chance to work with and benefit from the mentorship of those with whom I work has been invaluable, as I’ve learned about and witnessed effective modeling of pursuing graduate studies, leading large-scale projects and communicating with team members," Young said.

Young also worked with Elizabeth Smolcic, associate professor of education in the College of Education, after participating in the Teaching English as a Second Language certificate program in Ecuador. She worked with Smolcic and a team of researchers to investigate the Ecuador program and helped to code and analyze qualitative data to “understand how the Ecuador program challenges teachers and their ideas to engage in reciprocal, decolonizing work.”

“If it weren’t for the unwavering support from those in the College of Education, the Schreyer Honors College and the University Fellowships Office, I wouldn’t be who or where I am at this moment,” Young said. “I feel incredibly grateful for the people who have believed in me and invested so much time, energy, and resources into supporting me as a student with educational and professional goals.”

She said receiving the Beinecke Scholarship would aid her in her pursuit of graduate studies and develop her interests in self-regulated learning, metacognition and motivation.

“I think it’s really great that (Young is) our representative because she is what you want to have: somebody who works hard, and is grateful and takes advantage of every opportunity,” Sperling said.

The Beinecke Scholarship Program began in 1971 at the behest of the board of directors at the Sperry and Hutchinson Company to honor Edwin, Frederick and Walter Beinecke, the three brothers who ran the company starting in the 1920s. Together they expanded the company and set its course to become a Fortune 500 operation by the 1970s.

Each year, the program awards up to 20 scholarships from among the nominees of about 135 colleges and universities, according to the program website. The selection committee weighs applicants’ intellectual ability through academic achievement and seeks college juniors who will be attending a research-focused master’s or doctoral program. Applicants must demonstrate a history of receiving need-based financial aid during their undergraduate studies. Students must also be U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Students receive $4,000 prior to entering graduate school and another $30,000 while attending school. There are no geographic restrictions to the scholarship. The award must be used within five years.

The last Penn State recipient of the scholarship was Chris Brendel, a communication arts and sciences major who went on to pursue a Ph.D. at University of California Santa Barbara. Michael Stahl earned the award in 2009. Stahl was a classics and Eastern Mediterranean studies major who went on to the University of Notre Dame for biblical studies.

The University can only nominate one student for the award, so students first have to pass through an internal Penn State selection process facilitated by the University Fellowships Office. Interested students will need to first submit a complete application to the University Fellowships Office, univfellowships@psu.edu, approximately two months before the national deadline.

The University Fellowships Office is part of Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu.

Last Updated March 19, 2020