Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience

President's Prize. Your Student Life for the week of 12/8/19 (Grad/Prof)

  • Jen Pelletier Jen Pelletier

If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be? That’s the question that this year’s President’s Prize recipients have answered well. Ohio State students have powerful ideas for making our world a better place and the ambition to transform ideas into action. As the highest recognition Ohio State bestows on students committed to social change, the President’s Prize honors the university’s motto, “Education for Citizenship,” which calls upon Buckeyes to advance causes greater than themselves. Initiated by Ohio State president Michael V. Drake, no other university offers such an extensive and transformational opportunity for its students to address the most important and pressing issues of our time.

Recipients are selected based on the boldness of their ideas, their capacity to champion change and their commitment to the global community. Staff members from Student Life and Advancement, as well as faculty from a number of different disciplines, are deeply involved in choosing each year’s recipients. I have served on the President’s Prize planning committee since the beginning, and it has been an honor to have a small role in identifying recipients. This year’s recipients are Simone Bacon and Jen Schlegel.

Simone Bacon, of Chicago, Illinois, will graduate with a degree from the College of Public Health. Simone 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. Children are our future and she believes that investing in them today will determine the promise of our tomorrow. Her project team will work to leave remarkable impacts on the children they serve through dedication to service and holistic support.

Jen Schlegel, from Coshocton, Ohio, will earn her degree in biomedical engineering from the College of Engineering. She will lead a team in developing Handicom, a software/mobile application that facilitates the connection between ideas and written work. It’s finger tap-based with a built-in library, allowing for the import of homework, images, diagrams, equations and more. Jen is one of more than 40 million Americans who have limited dexterity and is excited to work with, and on behalf of, the disability community to help them grow and accomplish more.

The selection process is always challenging. This year, there were 61 applicants for the President’s Prize. We are fortunate at Ohio State to have so many remarkable students who have taken advantage of opportunities and resources on campus to get themselves to a place where they have not only the passion but also the knowledge, skills and motivation to pursue positive social change. Over the span from July to November, applicants went through two rounds of written applications, a presentation and a final interview.

Now in its fourth year, the President’s Prize, offers two graduating seniors the crucial connections and financial support needed to advance innovative ideas for change in their first year after graduation. Each recipient receives a $50,000 living stipend and up to $50,000 in startup funding to implement their innovative project that will positively impact a local, national or global community. Donor contributions fully fund the prize. They also receive access to faculty mentors and other experts, while sharing their ideas and experiences with Ohio State’s global community.

I am thrilled for Simone and Jen and optimistic about the projects they will pursue. Their respective projects are so personal to their own experiences and interests and have the potential to impact individuals and communities far greater than themselves.


Jen Pelletier

Associate Director
Student Life Student Activities















Dave Isaacs