Eastern Mennonite University has awarded Yoder Scholars to five students beginning their studies this fall.
Established in 1993 and named for alumni Carol and Paul R. Yoder Jr., the scholarships cover full tuition and include admission into EMU’s Honors Program.
This year’s Yoder Scholarships were awarded to Seth Andreas of Bluffton, Ohio; Caleb Hostetler of Marshallville, Ohio; Jaden Jones of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Jansen Miller of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Abby Olmstead of Broadway, Virginia.
They were chosen from a field of over 50 applicants who interviewed during Honors Weekend in February and who had an average SAT score of 1352, average ACT score of 30.2 and an average high school grade-point average of 4.2.
The EMU honors faculty conduct the Yoder Scholars competition, evaluating candidates’ academic performance, community and extra-curricular involvement, creativity, clarity of thought, and leadership potential. Participation in the competition requires candidates to provide two response pieces; a substantial example of academic work with teacher feedback; a resume indicating school, church and civic involvement; and two references.
“We are looking for high-caliber creative students with wide-ranging interests and strong leadership abilities,” said history professor Mark Metzler Sawin, director of the honors program at EMU.
Many EMU honors students – many of whom complete more than one major – receive unique academic and co-curricular opportunities along with intensive mentoring from faculty.
They chose EMU for its formative cross-culturals, rigorous academic programs, athletic and arts experiences, but each of the five said they were also drawn by the people here.
“I love the people at EMU,” said Andreas, who plans to double major in mathematics and computer science and minor in Spanish. “I have heard fantastic things about the teachers in the fields that I will be studying in, and I can’t wait to work with them next year.”
The slated valedictorian at Bluffton High School, Andreas has already earned 39 college credits at Bluffton University and is a member of the National Honor Society.
A swimmer and runner in high school, he will continue his athletic pursuits with the Royals cross country and track and field teams.
Andreas has performed in the Bluffton High School show choir and musicals and plays, and hopes to continue those musical interests at EMU (“I hear that many students do spontaneous hymn sings, and that kind of thing sounds super fun,” he said). He’s interested in going on cross-cultural to Guatemala, where he has already spent three months for language, culture and history studies.
A photographer and graphic designer by hobby, he has been involved with youth groups at First Mennonite and Grace Mennonite churches, and had a summertime job in a local bistro kitchen.
While he’s not sure which STEM major he’ll pursue – “I plan to study engineering. Or computer science… Or mathematics,” he said – Caleb Hostetler is sure that he wants to use those skills in outreach or missions settings. He recently spent six months in southeast Asia, where he taught in a grade school.
He has also been a children’s ministry leader at Orrville Mennonite Church and a church sound board operator, and he has worked in sheet metal fabrication, retail work, and programming and computer repair.
A National Merit Finalist, Hostetler is a 2018 graduate of Smithville High School, where he lettered four years on his state-qualifying varsity cross country team. He was a marching squad and percussion section leader for the marching band and first chair percussionist in the Tri-County Honors Band for two years. He also served as president and vice president of the foreign language club, and took calculus and chemistry classes at University of Akron – Wayne College.
At EMU, Hostetler plans to compete in STEM contests such as Kryptos, study piano performance, perhaps run on the cross country team, and immerse himself in the university culture.
“Having a tight-knit community where you know mostly everyone around campus really appeals to me, and from what I have heard EMU does that really well,” he said. “I am excited to live at EMU in Harrisonburg, a diverse area where I can meet new people with novel and interesting experiences of the world. I hope that coming to EMU will give me a broader understanding of people in this country and the world as a whole.”
“I love how at home I felt on EMU’s campus,” Jaden Jones wrote. “All of the faculty and staff were genuinely interested in me attending EMU, and that’s a large part of what made me decide to commit there.”
Jones’s long-term goal is to earn a PhD in astrophysics or engineering, but along the way she also wants to gain some teaching experience. She plans to major in mechanical engineering and minor in global development.
A senior at Lancaster Catholic High School, Jones earned a full scholarship to study for a year in Switzerland for a year with AFS. She is fluent in German and proficient in Mandarin Chinese. She is a member of the National Honor Society.
In addition to participating in intramurals at EMU, Jones said she will “definitely” join both the Engineers for a Sustainable World club and the Black Students Union – and be part of the campus trivia scene.
When National Merit Scholar Finalist Jansen Miller visited EMU for Honors Weekend, the university rose in his estimation: he said later that he grew to like it – “very much.”
“Seeing familiar faces around campus is something that I really enjoy,” he said.
He plans to major in mathematics, run on the cross country and track teams, and join a music ensemble – all continuations of interests he has already developed in high school.
At Lampeter-Strasburg High School, Miller was the second student to win the math Burrowes Scholar three times (it is awarded in fifth, eighth and 11th grades).
Miller ran on the school’s cross country team for six years, earning section all-star his junior and senior years and leading the varsity team to become Section II champions for the first time in the school’s history.
A piano student for grades three through 11, Miller was admitted into the Piano Guild with a perfect score in 2015, and accompanied his church choir on occasion. He played trumpet in the school band for nine years and the school jazz band for seven years. He was also a member of his school’s full orchestra and pit orchestra for both his junior and senior years.
During three summers, he volunteered in summer camp programs, providing support for camp instructors and working directly with students.
Olmstead has a spectrum of interests, from education, nursing and Spanish to calculus. Among her college goals is discovery: “to develop and nurture these interests” in order to “find what’s really calling me,” she said.
That will include engaging with EMU’s “real people with kind hearts,” traveling on cross-cultural and exploring music and intramural athletics.
Olmstead was elected class president all four years of high school. She attended the Massanutten Regional Governor’s Immersion Academy for the Spanish Language in the summer of 2018, and has conducted multiple independent studies.
She was a full-time summer volunteer three years at Lindale Child Care Program, and since last June has been employed there as a part-time assistant teacher. She is also a peer minister of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church youth group.
“I’m more than excited to become a Royal, and I can’t help but think that EMU is where I am meant to be,” she said. “The future may not be clear, but I’m proud to say that I will discover just what it holds for me at EMU.”