2024 class of University Scholars announced

LAWRENCE — The 43rd class of University Scholars and their faculty mentors were recognized during a reception hosted by the University of Kansas Honors Program on Feb. 6 at the Nunemaker Center. Attendees celebrated with refreshments and heard remarks from Sarah Crawford-Parker, University Honors Program director and Paul Scott, professor of French, who both reflected on the program and the opportunities it presents each cohort.  

Since 1982, the University Scholars Program has recognized and encouraged sophomores who demonstrate intellectual achievement and curiosity. Selected students receive a scholarship, are assigned a faculty mentor to support their academic endeavors and engage with a topic of contemporary interest as part of an interdisciplinary seminar course.

This spring’s seminar, “Imagined Futures,” is taught by Scott, the Jeffrey B. Weinberg Honors Faculty Fellow. The course invites students to examine the ways short stories, films and work in other mediums illustrate how most human pursuits are focused on future outcomes and possibilities. 

Fittingly, Scott sees great potential for the seminar, which is already underway.   

“Students in this seminar will become familiar with not only ways of envisioning the future but will also recognize – and reap the benefits – of doing so,” Scott said. “The seminar is a wonderful forum for discussion, sharing, sometimes disagreeing and always learning from each other as students hone analytic skills that can be applied to other topics and fields.”

The 2024 University Scholars are listed below alphabetically with major, hometown and faculty mentor: 

Nawal Basra, sophomore in behavioral neuroscience from Overland Park, mentored by Elizabeth MacGonagle, associate professor of history and African & African-American studies.

Hannah Bunch, sophomore in mechanical engineering from Overland Park, mentored by Katie Batza, chair and associate professor of women, gender & sexuality studies. 

Lauren D’Souza, sophomore in computer science from Overland Park, mentored by Thom Allen, honors program associate director and assistant professor of practice in urban planning. 

Connor Engelsman, sophomore in classics from Norton, mentored by Yvonnes Chen, professor of journalism & mass communications. 

Michelle Gasparre, sophomore in microbiology from Overland Park, mentored by Nilou Vakil, associate professor of architecture & design.

Tej Gumaste, sophomore in computer science from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, mentored by James Blakemore, associate professor of chemistry.  

Bhavya Gupta, sophomore in microbiology from Overland Park, mentored by Mary Klayder, associate director of undergraduate studies and senior lecturer in English. 

Jasneet Kaur, sophomore in pre-business from Olathe, mentored by Tracey LaPierre, director of undergraduate studies and associate professor of sociology.  

Kristopher Long, sophomore in political science from Manhattan, mentored by Ray Mizumura-Pence, associate teaching professor of American studies.  

Alexa Magstadt, sophomore in molecular, cellular & developmental biology from Shawnee, mentored by Kyla Camarda, associate professor of chemical & petroleum engineering.  

Daniel Mirakian, sophomore in accounting from Olathe, mentored by Nathan Wood, associate professor of history.  

Jiyoon Park, sophomore in environmental studies from Topeka, mentored by Patricia Gaston, Lacy C. Haynes Professor of Journalism.  

Jillian Parsons, sophomore in political science from Overland Park, mentored by Sarah Crawford-Parker, honors program director and associate teaching professor of museum studies.

Rita Pham, sophomore in East Asian languages & cultures from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, mentored by Najarian Peters, associate professor of law.  

Eden Shimekt, sophomore in human biology from Lenexa, mentored by Mary Klayder, lecturer, Department of English.  

Anjali Singh, sophomore in human biology from Sedgwick, mentored by Dave Tell, professor of communication studies.  

Xochitlh Vargas, sophomore in visual arts from Tulsa, Oklahoma, mentored by Darren Canady, professor of English. 

Monique Vieux, sophomore in mechanical engineering from Naples, Italy, mentored by Stephanie Zelnick, professor of clarinet.  

Elizabeth Viguerie, sophomore in biochemistry from Belleville, Illinois, mentored by Amy Leyerzapf, senior lecturer in leadership studies. 

Created to recognize and encourage academically talented and motivated sophomores, the University Scholars Program was founded under the leadership of retired U.S. 10th Circuit Chief Judge Deanell Tacha, then KU’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, along with longtime University Honors Program director Francis Heller, the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Law and Political Science. 

Fri, 02/09/2024


Dustin Vann

Media Contacts

Dustin Vann

University Honors Program