Jenny Park receives Mark Twain Fellowship

The senior will use the $50,000 scholarship to participate in a graduate neuroscience program in England.

  • Jenny Park (second from left) was surprised to learn she is this year's Mark Twain Fellowship recipient.
    Jenny Park (second from left) was surprised to learn she is this year's Mark Twain Fellowship recipient.

March 20, 2024
Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144,
Photos by Abbie Lankitus

University of Missouri senior Jenny Park thought she was attending a meeting with the foundation that is funding her research project. Instead, she walked into a conference room jam-packed with her mentors, advisors, teachers, parents and University of Missouri President Mun Choi.

“You are this year’s Mark Twain Fellow!” Choi said. “Congratulations! All of these individuals are here to congratulate you and celebrate your achievements.”

In its 11th year, the Mark Twain Fellowship is awarded annually to one senior or recent graduate who applies for an international, post-baccalaureate fellowship through MU’s Office of Global and National Fellowships. In addition to a desire to pursue graduate study outside North America, recipients demonstrate high academic achievement, leadership, service and character. The highly competitive, MU-sponsored award comes with a $50,000 scholarship.

Park, an Honors student who grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, and is a double major in biological sciences and psychology, plans to use the award money to participate in a graduate neuroscience program in England.

“I am so grateful for all my mentors, teachers and everyone who has lifted me up and supported my dreams for the future,” Park said. “This investment is not just in my individual success, but also in my vision for a better world that I can bring to my community, in Missouri and throughout the United States.”

An ambitious mind and a kind heart

At Mizzou, Park is not only focused on her own personal success. She’s also dedicated to using her knowledge to help her peers reach their full potential.

“Not only is Jenny an impressive scholar and researcher, but she also has a really good heart and is extremely caring for others,” said Bing Zhang, a professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Science who has both taught and mentored Park during her undergraduate career. “Jenny was one of my students in my animal physiology course, which can be a difficult course for some, and she volunteered her time each week to help other students who were struggling in the class. She made a huge difference, and I think she is the best investment the university can make for this award.”

Outside the classroom, Park has also engaged in several extracurricular activities including working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Cognition, Aging, Sleep and Health Lab and the Health Neuroscience Center. She also uses her experience as a daughter of immigrants to help others who have come to the United States from around the world. In 2022, Park created the Mizzou Empowers Refugees and Immigrants organization, which is focused on refugee and immigrant advocacy. She recently spoke at the launch of the new Interdisciplinary Migration Studies Institute. Additionally, she leads People Advocating for Growth and Empowerment, a book club that features high school students from several states and South Korea.

“I am very honored and thankful for all the support the University of Missouri has provided for my daughter,” said Park’s father, Jae Park. “I always say that she is totally different from me. She is on another level.”

The Mark Twain Fellowship isn’t the first time Park has been recognized for her academic accomplishments and community outreach efforts.

Last year, she was named a Goldwater Scholar, one of the most prestigious national scholarships in natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. She also was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, an international postgraduate award to study at the University of Oxford. Earlier this month, Park was a recipient of the Mizzou ’39 Award, which is given to 39 outstanding MU seniors each year who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership and service to Mizzou and the community.

Her graduate studies won’t be the first time Park has studied abroad; during her time at MU, Park studied neuroscience abroad in England as part of the University of Oxford’s Direct Enrollment program. Her goal is to become a physician to help people with neurodegenerative diseases.

“I will continue to keep the love and support I have felt at Mizzou going forward and always remember that my dreams have been supported by the University of Missouri,” Park said. “I will keep moving to make the difference that I hope to see in this world.”

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