Ask Sarah Bahr about her weekend plans and she will rattle off an itinerary of performances at the Phoenix Theatre, the Indiana Reparatory Theatre, the Hilbert Circle Theatre, maybe a cultural festival, and probably some interviews for articles she is writing.
When does she have time to study three majors, two minors, work in the Writing Center and the dean’s office, help edit genesis-- the student literary magazine, and freelance for Indianapolis Monthly? It must happen sometime. One doesn’t just become the 2018 Chancellor’s Scholar in the School of Liberal Arts without opening a book.
Bahr, a Harry Potter fan, swears her time-turner necklace is just a replica and magically manipulating her schedule isn’t an option. Her secret is a relentless work ethic, a love of learning, and a dislike of boredom that has been with her since begging her mother to teach her how to read at the age of three. Bahr’s mom held off for a year, but by the time Bahr was five she was well versed in the adventures of Junie B. Jones, a book series that suggests a starting age of six.
Throughout elementary school, her mother supplemented classroom learning with additional workbooks. She wasn’t a tiger mom pushing her daughter to excellence, Bahr insists. She was a mother trying to keep her child entertained. “My mom characterizes me as ‘kind of bored’ in first grade so she added workbooks on top of school to keep me challenged,” Bahr recalls. “Even in the summer, I had homework so I built on what I learned during the school year. I think it's safe to say I had a strong desire to learn.”
That desire to learn has yet to be quenched. Bahr will soon graduate with degrees in English, Spanish, and Journalism and minors in literature and women’s studies. During her time as a student she also worked as a reporter for the Campus Citizen and served as a School of Liberal Arts ambassador. She’ll return to IUPUI and the School of Liberal Arts in the fall as a graduate student studying literature.
As her undergrad career winds down, Bahr has also been named outstanding English major, the Journalism and PR academic achievement award winner, and a Plater Civic Medallion recipient. She placed as an IUPUI top 100 student twice, this year being selected as a top 10 recipient.
Previous awards include The Indiana Outstanding College Student of Spanish Award given by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese in Indiana, 13 writing awards from Purdue University’s annual literary contest, and numerous academic honors and scholarships.
Only one student in each IUPUI academic school is named a Chancellor’s Scholar. Students are selected based on criteria that includes being in the final year of their degree work and having the highest grade point average in the unit. Bahr’s academic advisor, Rosa Tezanos-Pinto, associate professor of Spanish, notes that in spite of the many demands of her majors and minors, Bahr has been on the Dean’s List since her freshman year, maintained a 4.0 GPA and has been one of the most prominent Honors College students.
“It's much more difficult to motivate myself to work on an assignment if I know the finished product isn't going to be the best it can be,” Bahr says. “For instance, why should I even bother finishing this paper if I know the end product isn't going to reflect all the research I've put in on the front end? Don't I owe it to myself to make it the best it can be?”
Bahr has also managed to build a substantial portfolio of published writing that includes work from Indianapolis Monthly, The Indianapolis Star, Forbes Travel Guide, and Hektoen International, a medical humanities journal that often publishes the work of professionals and Ph.Ds. She also covered the 2018 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, as part of the Sports Capital Journalism Program. This summer she will work at The Indianapolis Star as a Pulliam Fellow.
"I'm honored to be recognized for my four years of contributions to the school and am grateful to all the professors whose diligent mentorship and persistent encouragement have helped me surpass benchmarks I never thought I'd hit,” Bahr says. “I look forward to doing even more great things this fall when I return to the School of Liberal Arts for graduate school."