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Brendel graduates with Beinecke Scholarship to fund graduate school

Chris in library
Chris Brendel

When Chris Brendel graduates on May 10, 2014, he won’t have to worry about how he is going to pay for the graduate program in linguistics in which he plans to enroll. That’s because he has already been assured $30,000 for graduate school through the Beinecke Scholarship, which he was awarded in 2013.

Brendel was Penn State University’s sole nominee for Beinecke Scholarship–quite an accomplishment considering that Penn State University is comprised of approximately 40,000 undergraduate students. In addition, he is only the second Penn State student to receive the award in the 22-year history of the Beinecke Scholarship. He is the first Penn State student to receive the award from a campus outside University Park.

"It's an incredible feeling to know that I already have money for graduate school,” commented Brendel, a Communications Arts & Sciences major with a minor in English from Shillington, PA.

Brendel is still in the process of completing his graduate school applications. Eventually, he would like to become a professor of linguistics or English.

Originally, Brendel had planned to look for a degree in linguistics at another college, and then he realized that he could conduct the research that he wanted to do at Penn State Berks. He also cited the opportunity to complete an internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and to study abroad as opportunities that Berks afforded him.

Last summer, Brendel was awarded a highly competitive summer internship in the Research Training Program at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He worked with two curators at the Smithsonian to identify the influence that Spanish has had on an indigenous language called Juchitán Zapotec. They also looked at changes in the phonology of the language.

Brendel studied linguistics and phonetics abroad at the University of Leeds in England for a semester. In addition, he has traveled extensively through the college’s international experiences. His excursions include “Writing and Communicating Health in South Africa,” involving one-week study in Johannesburg, South Africa; “Passages,” involving one-week study in Donegal and Dublin, Ireland; and “Constructing Taiwan’s Nature,” involving one-week study and teaching English to elementary school children in Yilan, Taiwan.

This summer, he plans to complete his second internship at the Educational Testing Services at Princeton, where he will work with the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). He interned at ETS two summers ago.

While a student at Penn State Berks, Brendel was a Penn State Schreyer Scholar. He was recently awarded the Usharani and Channa Reddy Mission Award, which is given to the graduating Schreyer Scholar who has excelled in and integrated all aspects of the Honors College mission statement: academic excellence, global perspective, leadership and civic engagement. Brendel is the first student at Penn State Berks to receive this award.

He received the following awards from the college: Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award; Young Investigator Award for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Division; Evan Pugh Scholar Award; Boscov Scholarship; First-Year Advocate Award; President Sparks Award; Jackie Ciferri Award for First-Year Writing; and the President’s Freshman Award.

In addition to his academic success, Brendel worked on campus as a writing tutor and peer mentor. He also found time to get involved with campus activities including the Lion Ambassadors, Honors Club, Orientation Leader, and Student Activity Fund Committee.

When asked what he attributes his success to, Brendel states that it all begins with knowing your professors.

“When I first came to Berks, I had no idea what it would be like, so I was always visiting my professors’ offices. It taught me the importance of communication. I have had so many opportunities at Penn State Berks. I have been able to publish papers, attend conferences, take advantage of leadership opportunities.”

“I really think the Honors Program and Honors Club has help me get involved and make so many friends with people from diverse backgrounds in different majors,” Brendel adds. “It’s been important socially and academically.”

Ironically, Brendel considered working in the family business instead of attending college. His father owns Brendel Mechanical, an electrical and HVAC contracting company, and it was always assumed that he would follow in his father’s footsteps.

Brendel took the road less traveled, and it has made all the difference.

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