Skip to main content

Congratulations Honors Scholars!

2020-21 Honors Scholarship Recipients

Every year the Honors Program awards scholarships to Honors students as a recognition of their academic achievements and progress in the Honors Program. Academic Excellence is the first pillar of the Honors Program and we are proud to see what our students accomplish. We congratulate this year’s scholarship recipients! 
Pictured left to right Above: Top Row: Demitri Haddad, Marisa Gonzalez-Mabbutt, Caleb Johnson; Bottom Row: Austin Heath, Loriana Goulding, Jacob Reese

Robert K. Thomas Scholarship
The Robert K. Thomas Scholarship is named after the founder of the BYU Honors Program. Dr. Thomas “felt a special affinity for the aspiring few and truly believed they would set a standard that would raise the level of academic achievement throughout the university.” This scholarship is awarded to two Honors students each semester who are currently working on their theses. 

Caleb Johnson | Computer Science & Statistics
“These past three years in the Honors program have given me far more than I would have imagined when I began, and the interdisciplinary atmosphere has drastically altered the way in which I am able to view the world. Group discussions with students from various majors, viewpoints, and matters of thinking have helped me to grow as a student and a thinker. From our discussions as confused freshmen in Honors 120, trying to understand what a “thinking pattern” even was, to our councils as upperclassmen in Honors 320, debating what constitutes a "great question," I have loved the ways in which fellow students have stretched my mind and challenged my world views.”

“I have always had a passion for understanding the seemingly chaotic, and being able to find the reason and data behind the observed. For my Honors Thesis, I have been able to quantify and observe the effects that anonymity has on human communication online, and the ways in which being faceless changes how we interact with others. I hope to carry my research in natural language processing over the last couple years forward into graduate school and industry, where I will be able to continue to leverage my skills to help understand the great questions of the world.”

Austin Heath | Statistics
“The Honors Program has served as a point of departure from static learning and pushed me to start the journey of proactive, interdisciplinary learning. I realized this need for greater interdisciplinary understanding during weeks I spent involved in Chinese factory negotiations during the trade war. The Honors Program has inspired me to seek out greater understanding of culture, organizational behavior, and politics.”

“For my thesis project, I have consulted with the BYU Center for Teaching and the Statistics Department with the goal of improving stats education. The coordination between faculty and students has expanded my understanding of organizational bureaucracy and leadership. I have directed the formation of a faculty/student team that has developed a decision tree for the course, along with 300+ real-world scenarios. Our work has caught the attention of the course manager and will be featured in a future course pilot. This pilot will measure the impact of decision-based education on student performance and attitudes.”

“Upon completion of my thesis project, I plan to study organizational behavior in a graduate program. I look forward to working with early-stage companies where alignment and mission are especially critical to survival. I will pursue certifications in Mandarin Chinese competency to better understand the impact of Chinese politics and culture on multi-national corporations. I want to encourage interdisciplinary learning within my future family by continuing the great questions essaying process.”

Jacob Reese | Interdisciplinary Humanities
“I began the Honors Program during my Junior year at BYU. Because I was a transfer student, I had already completed my general classes and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take courses that I had already completed the requirements for, but I am so glad that I did!”

“Though joining the Honors Program added a year onto my degree, I feel that the classes and research opportunities that I’ve had through it have easily been among the best at BYU. The interdisciplinary approach encouraged me to open my mind to new ways of thinking and stretch myself while the other students and instructors consistently raised new questions that required me to expand my viewpoint and think critically about the assumptions which my major had ingrained in me.”

“When the time eventually came to write my thesis, I knew that I wanted to continue that interdisciplinary thinking as much as possible, so I decided to write about ecological representation in literature, film, and video games. This would allow me to examine a question that was interesting to me—how humans represent their relationship with the earth in media—and to practice my analytical skills across various forms of media.”

“I am currently applying to PhD programs across the country to study the role of game mechanics in interactive narrative and the ways in which gaming will change storytelling in the future.”

Loriana Goulding | pre-law Psychology and Korean
“Throughout my time at BYU as an Honors student, I have had many special opportunities, including a study abroad to Kyung Hee University in South Korea in 2015, being part of a financial literacy entrepreneurship program at Oxford University in 2016, and publishing a paper in the psychology undergraduate journal, Intuition. From 2017-2018 I served a full-time mission in Daejeon, South Korea, and upon returning home declared Korean as my secondary major. My interdisciplinary training in the Honors program has prepared me for many of my current opportunities, including working at the Utah State Prison as a Psychology Technician, my Honors thesis research studying an fMRI study on the effects of handedness on brain lateralization in the memory centers of the brain, performing research for a meta-analysis on racial bias among therapists, and volunteering with the BYU law clinic as a Korean translator. My Honors program training of always striving to look for unexpected connections has influenced me in applying to specialized combined JD/PhD programs this fall. My experience as a primary researcher and author of my Honors thesis has aided me in the graduate admissions process where my many passions and interests shine through in my unique fields of research.”

Khona Scholarship
The Khona Scholarship was established by the Khona family to benefit Honors students majoring in business-related fields.  It is awarded to two Honors students each semester who are business majors and currently working on their theses.

Marisa Gonzalez-Mabbutt | International Relations, emphasis in Latin American Studies
“I am the youngest of four daughters in a family that has continually supported my academic ambitions, many of which have included internships and research programs. During my time at BYU, I have been able to intern for an import/export group in Spain and also work for the State Department’s Economic Bureau in Washington, D.C. as part of the BYU Washington Seminar program.”

“While part of the BYU Honors Program, I found that my Honors courses helped augment the knowledge I had gained in my political science courses by looking at new areas of the world that I had never thought much about before. Specifically, one of my Honors classes discussed nation-building, imagined communities, and the way culture is defined and developed. This class prompted me to take part in a research program in Thailand to examine the relationship between cultural values and democratic support which later turned into the basis of my research for my Honors Thesis. After graduation, I want to go to law school and develop the skills and knowledge that will allow me to work for a multinational corporation abroad. One day, I also hope to help develop minority communities both domestically and internationally.”

Demitri Haddad | Information Systems
"The Honors Program has fueled my creativity more than any other set of classes I have taken. The classes help you find your voice, narrow down your passions, and walk away with research experience to prove it. I find myself remembering so much more from my Honors classes because I’m not focused on pushing all of the information out of my head to study for my next midterm. I’m making my own connections and learning through a carefully guided approach. I feel like I’m able to tackle problems with my unique approaches and come to my own conclusions. This program has also allowed me to make research a top priority in my education. In 2018 I started pursuing independent research in real estate. Everything about real estate felt so out of touch with technology. My working title for the Honors thesis is “Building the Future of Real Estate Through the Blockchain”. I’ve learned everything I can about buying and selling homes, and am determined to find a better way to transact property. I recently formed a partnership to invest in and manage properties. I do plan on making real estate a big part of my future as I continue to find ways to connect real estate and technology."