EKU Honors Program senior Biology major Nicholas Koenig has been named 2020-2021 National Student of the Year (Four-Year Institution) by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Founded in 1966, the NCHC is the principal national association of honors colleges and honors programs throughout the United States.
Koenig is only the second EKU student ever to win this award.
This signal achievement is the latest in a long list of nationally competitive awards for the Louisville native, including a 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholarship and a 2020 DAAD internship for research in Germany. In 2020, Koenig also became EKU’s first-ever Rhodes Scholar finalist.
In addition to his Biology major, Koening is also completing an eclectic and interdisciplinary list of four minors (Chemistry, Statistics, Geography and Music).
Over the past thirty years, more than 1,000 EKU Honors Program students have made research presentations at the NCHC’s annual meeting—a total that far surpasses that of any other honors college or honors program in the nation. As part of that tradition, Koenig presented his research work at the 2019 NCHC conference in New Orleans as well as the 2020 NCHC (which was originally slated for Dallas last November, but was moved to a virtual format because of the continuing pandemic). He also serves the NCHC as a student editor of UReCA—the NCHC’s online journal for Undergraduate Research as Creative Activities.
Koenig, who aims at a Ph.D. in Botany and a career in botanical research, also currently serves as EKU’s student government vice president. In addition, he is president of the EKU Green Crew—a student organization that promotes environmental conservation and awareness. The award is “a gracious reminder of how I devote my time to fighting for environmental justice and advocating for community. Creating community is something NCHC does so well and the organization has touched my collegiate career deeply from its annual conference to the network of honors students and professors,” Koenig said.
Koenig was a peer mentor to honors students last year alongside EKU Honors Program Executive Director David Coleman. “Teaching alongside Nick as he has been working with our new students has reminded powerfully of his generous spirit and his effectiveness as a communicator. Within our EKU Honors community, he is universally regarded among his student peers as a kind friend, an attentive mentor, and a visionary leader,” Coleman said.