Stephen Henrich ’13 was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world.
Although he wasn’t selected, this is one of those cases when being selected a finalist is an enormous honor.
Henrich, who grew up in Mason City, is a second-year medical student and PhD. candidate at Northwestern University.
Now interested in both theory and the application of science, Henrich has already delved into a wide range of research topics, including nanoscale engineering, the impact of the Pacific Ocean Garbage Path on marine life, childhood neurological diseases, novel drug delivery systems, corporate conspiracies and the science of cities.
The Simpson faculty who knew Henrich best were not surprised that he reached the finalist level.
“Stephen Henrich was the best interdisciplinary student I have ever taught at Simpson and, all things considered, he has to be one of the best students who has ever walked this campus,” said John Pauley, professor of philosophy. “His senior project in philosophy was the work of someone far past ordinary undergraduate study.
Added Rick Spellerberg, professor of mathematics: “He took advantage of every opportunity possible that honed his mind as an interdisciplinary problem solver and thinker. His passion for learning in this regard I feel is unmatched. My colleagues and I that had the chance to work with him at Simpson College feel very fortunate.”
At Simpson, Henrich graduated with triple majors in biochemistry, math and applied philosophy. He was accepted by seven of the finest medical schools in the country, and eventually chose Northwestern.
“Stephen is a broad thinker, in that is he is able to realize the many ways of envisioning and solving a particular problem,” said Ron Warnet, a retired chemistry professor and current adjunct professor at Simpson. “He is that rare personal who can see the big picture and the important details of a problem. I think this is why he combined studies in the sciences and philosophy while he was here at Simpson. He has the kind of curiosity and drive to tackle big problems which often overwhelm the rest of us. And he is a genuine, kind, authentic person who thinks and acts both with his head and his heart.”
Added Jackie Brittingham, professor of biology: “I have never met a student before who is so genuinely curious about his world and passionate about learning as much as he can about how the world works. He also generously shares his talents with all who he meets. I feel fortunate to have worked with Stephen during his four years at Simpson College and I am looking forward to seeing all that he is capable of accomplishing in the future as he continues to seek new ways of understanding in the pursuit of his dream to heal others.”
Henrich was a great example of the many opportunities that a college the size of Simpson provides. He was a treasurer in student government, played violin in the school orchestra and played baseball and tennis.
Before he graduated, Henrich was asked about his Simpson experience.
“We have fantastic faculty members who are willing to get involved with you in anything you want to do,” he said. “Not only are the faculty really willing to work with each other, but the structure also is set up to be tightly knit. Each department likes to see students branch out.”
He was particularly impressed by how Simpson encourages undergraduates to explore their own research projects.
“You don’t spend your first two years at Simpson just being somebody’s assistant,” he said. “I was constructing my own research projects. And the professors were more than happy to work with me.”