Honors College Student Named a Goldwater Scholar


Fort Hays State University Honors College student, sophomore Brynn Wooten, has been named a 2021 Barry Goldwater Scholar. This nationally competitive scholarship will fully fund her final two years of undergraduate study. Wooten is the first FHSU student to receive this prestigious award.

Wooten is a geosciences and biology major from Westminster, Colorado. Her passion for science, especially paleobiology, began at a very young age. As a child, she convinced her parents to take a less direct route on family trips to visit relatives in Texas, so that she could visit the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays. During her college search process, Wooten learned of Sternberg Museum’s affiliation with Fort Hays State, and immediately decided she wanted to become a Tiger.

In her Goldwater Scholarship application package, Wooten shared her passion for investigating the intersection of paleontology and biology, along with her vision to become a research scientist.

“From the moment Brynn arrived on campus, her excitement about learning and focus on the future of scientific knowledge in paleobiology deeply impressed me,” said Honors College Director Dr. Kevin Amidon.

Amidon went on to say, “Her qualifications for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship were clear to me from the outset, and she richly deserves the confidence that the Goldwater Foundation has placed in her.”

When most people think about paleontology, they think of dinosaurs. Wooten is not very interested in dinosaurs. Rather, she is fascinated by how other animals evolved after the great extinction of the dinosaurs more than 66 million years ago. Wooten plans to pursue a career studying paleoecology and teach at a university that hosts a natural history museum.

Wooten credits several FHSU faculty members for helping her secure this tremendous scholarship opportunity.

“I am extremely happy and proud to bring this honor to Fort Hays State University, and I certainly could not have gotten to this point without the amazing faculty and staff who work here,” said Wooten. “I would like to especially thank Dr. Kevin Amidon and Dr. Lexey Bartlett worked on the application with me, Dr. Lorelei Patrick and Drs. Jeanne and Jonathan Sumrall helped me with letters of recommendation and clarifying my application, and Dr. Laura Wilson helped me with my final revisions. All of them were absolutely instrumental in helping me realize this dream.”

About the 2021 Goldwater Scholarship Program

Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

From an estimated pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors: 1256 natural science, engineering, and mathematics students were nominated by 438 academic institutions to compete for the 2021 Goldwater scholarships.

The Goldwater Scholarship Program is one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. The program seeks to identify and support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming this Nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields.

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