Jordan Powell (far right), a senior in biological sciences, was named the 2017 Renaissance Student of the Year.

Biology student wins Renaissance Student Award

May 9, 2017 by Greg Katski

Jordan Powell, a graduating senior in biological sciences, has earned Missouri S&T’s third-ever Renaissance Student Award. The award, which includes a $1,000 prize, was presented by the university’s arts, languages, and philosophy department at a reception during the 2017 Student Art Show on Monday, May 1.

The award is named after the term “Renaissance person,” which was originally coined to describe the great philosophers of the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras who were experts in numerous areas that varied drastically in terms of fields. The most common example of a Renaissance person is Leonardo da Vinci, who was a painter, sculptor, musician, mathematician, inventor and writer.

In addition to majoring in biological sciences and minoring in psychological science and chemistry, Powell has sung in the University Choir, acted as a member of the Miner League Theatre Players and was a PRO (Preview, Registration, and Orientation) leader for three years, where she mentored incoming freshman.

She plays a number of instruments, including drums, piano and ukulele, recently recorded her first original song, volunteers at Vineyard Church, administers the “Humans of Rolla” Facebook page, and likes to run, play ultimate Frisbee and flag football.

Powell conceptualized, created, implemented and assessed a healthy nutrition and exercise program for young girls at a local afterschool program as a project in a psychology course taught by Dr. Amber Henslee, assistant professor of psychological science.

Powell traveled to Kenya in December 2016 to volunteer and learn more about the country’s culture. She plans to move to Kenya with her fiancé after graduation to work in child development.

The Renaissance Award was developed through Missouri S&T’s arts, languages, and philosophy department after Luce Myers, assistant teaching professor, was impressed by a student of hers in 2012 who majored in petroleum engineering and was a student athlete and a pianist.

The awards committee also commended two other finalists who were in contention for the award— Faith Van Wig, a graduating senior in computer science, and Owen Smith, a graduating senior in physics.

S&T seniors who plan to graduate in 2018 may apply for next year’s award beginning March 1, 2018. For more information, visit

The College of Arts, Sciences, and Business and Campus Arts Committee co-sponsored the award and art show.