Apr 21, 2023

Junior Anika Homan wins prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Dordt University junior mathematics major Anika Homan of Appleton, Wisconsin has won a Goldwater Scholarship, a nationally competitive award for students in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. She is one of 413 recipients selected from a pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious national scholarship competition in mathematics and the sciences,” says Dr. Mike Janssen, professor of mathematics at Dordt. “Anika stands out as one of the most gifted, focused, and hardest-working students I’ve ever worked with.”

Homan has participated in many undergraduate research opportunities during her three years at Dordt. So far, Homan has completed two undergraduate research projects: one at Dordt in 2021 and another at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan in 2022. This summer, she will work on another undergraduate research project at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Homan has also given multiple conference presentations on her mathematical work, including a presentation at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics in Lincoln, Nebraska in January, at the Mathematical Association of America MathFest 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she and her co-presenter won an outstanding poster designation, and at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in 2022.

Homan decided to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship after receiving encouragement from her older brother, who is a current graduate student familiar with the award. She thought it would be a long shot to win the scholarship but that it was a beneficial experience to apply.

“After the initial shock of finding out that I had been selected as a Goldwater Scholar, I was overwhelmed with gratitude: being in the position to apply for the scholarship was certainly not a place I had reached on my own,” she says. “Countless mentors—including my high school calculus teacher, Dr. Janssen, and my summer research adviser—have invested in me, giving me the encouragement and support to pursue a research career in mathematics.”

Goldwater Scholars have gone on to win an impressive array of prestigious post-graduate fellowships, according to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which partners with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs to provide the scholarships. Goldwater Scholars have earned the Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, Churchill Scholarship, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, DOE Computation Science Graduate Fellowship, and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

Homan says she chose to major in mathematics on “a bit of a whim”; she enjoyed high school calculus, and she was interested in exploring mathematics as a college freshman. She quickly found herself captivated by the rigor of the proof-based mathematics classes she had at Dordt. Mathematics is full of puzzles, and she enjoys the challenge of solving problems with creativity and logic.

“While the prospect of becoming a mathematician can seem daunting, knowing that others including the Goldwater Foundation review committee see potential in me as a researcher is encouraging. In particular, being recognized as a Goldwater Scholar gives me confidence as I take the next step toward my goal of a career in math research: applying for graduate school this coming fall.”

Janssen says that having Homan receive a Goldwater Scholarship emphasizes that Dordt offers an engaging, academically rigorous math major, with strong teaching and mentoring. “In our classes, students have the opportunity to ask and explore their own mathematical questions, which prepares them well for research,” he says. “Students with an interest in exploring the cutting edge of God’s mathematical creation can do so here and be well-prepared for research at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

About Dordt University

As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.

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