Three CALS students named 2024 Barron Award recipients

By Whitney Baxter

Bettering the people and the world around them is something Ian Johnson, Caroline Lang and Emily Shatek have in common. As three of this year’s six Wallace E. Barron All-University Senior Award recipients, all have displayed outstanding achievements and leadership in and out of the classroom.

Presented annually by the Iowa State University Alumni Association, the award recognizes graduating seniors who have shown great character, excelled in their classes, and been active in university and community organizations. The award is named after Wallace E. “Red” Barron (’28 agricultural economics), Iowa State’s director of alumni affairs from 1937 to 1968.

Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson
Ian Johnson

A native of Marysville, Ohio, Johnson was attracted to Iowa State because of the hands-on opportunities available through the Department of Animal Science. As an animal science major, Johnson has served as a peer mentor to younger students in the department for the past three years.

“The opportunity to give back to others has been super rewarding,” Johnson said. “I’ve worked to make the interactions I have with the younger students feel like a friendship rather than a mentor/mentee interaction.”

Johnson also has been active with the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, serving as president last year. He enjoys the camaraderie of the group and how they all push themselves to become active on campus and in the community.

“Ian has had tremendously positive impacts on several years of incoming students,” said Brad Skaar, associate professor of animal science and AGR chapter advisor. “He encourages them to find opportunities to develop leadership skills and become involved in various clubs and organizations. He very much recognizes the value of networking and making the most of your time at Iowa State.”

To get to know people outside the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Johnson served as Homecoming co-director in 2022 through the Student Alumni Leadership Council. Organizing and leading a group of around 70 students taught him how to effectively manage different personalities and chemistries among members.

The biggest takeaway from Johnson’s many leadership roles has been his shift from a “me” to a “we” perspective when it comes to serving others. 

“I have learned to think about how we can progress as a group and to see more of the big picture impact we can have,” he said.

Following graduation this spring, Johnson will join Select Sires in Ohio as a product specialist.

Caroline Lang

Caroline Lang
Caroline Lang

“Interdisciplinary” would be a great word to define Lang’s Iowa State experience, not just through her majors but through her involvement.

A double major in global resource systems and psychology, Lang grew up in Vinton, Iowa. She quickly became involved in the Women in Science and Engineering program on campus and now serves as a peer facilitator for first-year women STEM majors.

Lang’s participation in the Semester on the Nile study abroad program in Uganda was a pivotal moment and led to her Science with Practice project with Dorothy Masinde, teaching professor for the global resource systems major and associate director for nutrition education programs under Iowa State’s Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods. Through this project, Lang worked at Ugandan nutrition and maternal health centers, studying early childhood development and how it impacts children’s growth.

“The greatest impact she’s had during her time at Iowa State was through working in Uganda with the women enrolled in the program,” Masinde said. “She was always very friendly and sensitive to other cultures.”

As a GRS major, Lang is required to select a technical area of expertise. She chose to focus on global health, looking at what impacts health, the way people think about natural health and how cultures interact.

“Thinking through how people view the world around them can be used as an influential tool for improving systems,” Lang said.

She has taken every opportunity she can to dive into different experiences as an Iowa State student and encourages others to do the same.

“The ability to deepen your understanding of your field of study and broaden your experience outside of your major provides depth and breadth to enhance your knowledge,” Lang said.

Looking to the future, Lang sees herself working in a research lab, discovering ways to improve global resource systems from a psychological perspective.

Emily Shatek

Emily Shatek
Emily Shatek

With a desire to gain a foundational background in agriculture, Shatek added agricultural business as a second major to complement her finance major.

A Mason City, Iowa, native, Shatek has held leadership roles in several organizations on campus, including the Agricultural Business Club, Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Pre-Law Club and Cardinal Key Honor Society. She has also served on the Student Alumni Leadership Senior Class Council.

“The connections I’ve made have been invaluable,” Shatek said of her involvement.

Amani Elobeid, teaching professor in economics and Agricultural Business Club advisor, said Shatek oversaw the club’s Ag Alliance program. In this role, Shatek matched club members to mentors from companies that sponsor the club. Elobeid was impressed with the level of professionalism Shatek brought to the role.

“Students look up to her not only because she is a good student, but because she is a strong leader in the sense that she is determined to get things done and bring people together to make it happen,” Elobeid said.

During the fall 2022 semester, Shatek went on a study abroad trip to the United Arab Emirates where she experienced the culture and economics of the area. Her favorite memories of the trip included visiting the world’s tallest building, an Islamic Bank and a souq (traditional Arab street market).

“Try to figure out a way to travel while you’re at Iowa State,” Shatek offered as advice to fellow students. “It’s crazy how big of an impact it has on your life.”

She also took part in an ag lending internship, gaining insight into the banking world and putting her coursework into action.

“It’s always cool when you can take what you’re learning in classes and apply it to the real world,” Shatek said.

After returning from a study abroad trip to Rome in May, Shatek will begin law school at Drake University.