Photo Credit: USI Photo Services
Samuel Barnett, who graduated magna cum laude in May as a double major in biophysics and Spanish, is the University of Southern Indiana’s 2014 Trustees Distinguished Merit Award winner. The award recognizes outstanding achievement not only in the student’s major but also in the liberal arts and sciences that form the core curriculum. Each College at USI nominates one student for the honor, which includes a $1,500 award.
Barnett, a Presidential Scholar, takes advantage of the opportunities he encounters and makes it part of his mission to provide the same for others. As a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity he’s set up a tutoring program within his chapter and conducted workshops to improve his fraternity brothers’ study habits and time management skills. “I wanted to join a brotherhood and be with other men committed to higher education and participate in campus philanthropy,” he said.
Barnett had numerous offers from colleges, but chose to attend USI because he knew how caring and helpful the faculty is. “I originally thought I might not stay around, but once you come to campus, meet those involved and see how beautiful it is; those are huge selling points,” he said. “The faculty go out of their way to give recommendations and help you find scholarships.”
Barnett didn’t feel he’d have the same opportunities at other universities. Larger institutions often are too vast for faculty to provide the one-on-one mentorship he found at USI and in the biophysics program. “It’s unique because its program is interdisciplinary, something not found at many other schools,” he said.
The term “interdisciplinary” speaks to who Barnett is. He grew up listening to National Public Radio which sparked his interest to learn to play the violin. He entered the Suzuki Violin Program at the University of Evansville when he was only 12 years old. Today he still plays in the orchestra but also gives private lessons to seven students. Last summer he studied Spanish abroad for 10 weeks in Granada, Spain, because he was interested in the Arab cultural influences within the city.
This fall, he will start medical school at Indiana University, and while he’s yet unsure where medicine will take him—a research lab or into communities internationally—he hopes to maximize his own experience as well as those around him.