Katherine Jimenez Named UConn’s First Beinecke Scholar

The journalism and English major has already begun work on a novel based on her mother's experiences during the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua

Katherine Jimenez (CLAS '24), a recipient of the Beinecke Scholarship, poses for a photo on campus

Katherine Jimenez (CLAS '24), a recipient of the Beinecke Scholarship, poses for a photo on campus on Monday, March 27, 2023. (Sydney Herdle/UConn Photo)

University of Connecticut junior Katherine Jimenez ’24 (CLAS) has been named a recipient of a Beinecke Scholarship, the first in the history of the institution.

The Beinecke Scholarship Program was established in 1971 by the Board of Directors of The Sperry and Hutchinson Company to honor Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke. The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them and to be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Jimenez, a journalism and English major, has a keen interest in writing novels. Raised in Nicaragua, she also lived in Miami before moving to up to Derby. She is the only student from a New England public university to receive a Beinecke Scholarship this year.

“My dream in life is to be a novelist and that is why I am an English major – to study the craft,” says Jimenez. “That is what I want to do and that is what I am going to do. I would also like to become an English professor, because I really love explaining and studying the things that happen in books.”

Each Beinecke scholar receives $5,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.

“I’m thrilled for Katherine who, as an undergraduate, has already demonstrated that she has novel things to say about topics as universal and enduring as the mother-daughter relationship,” says UConn Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Anne D’Alleva.I’m particularly grateful to the many faculty and staff who have mentored her and encouraged her immense talent along the way.  This is exactly the type of life-transformative effort our students expect from us, and Katherine’s success demonstrates, yet again, that UConn is a place where students will find the support they need to compete and succeed on the biggest of stages.”

Jimenez actually started writing a fantasy novel during middle school, but as a sophomore at UConn she began her work on a novel based on her mother’s upbringing in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution. She is currently working on it for her University Scholar project.

She has been mentored on the writing of the novel by Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of English Gina Barreca, Assistant Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing Sean Forbes, Professor of Journalism Julie Serkosky.

Jimenez currently works with Barreca on an independent study as she continues to write her novel. The two meet once a week to review line-by-line the 10 pages Jimenez writes for each session.

“No student at UConn, or at any other university, works harder than Katherine or has more energy, intelligence, ambition, or talent than she commands,” says Barreca. “As a student who is the first in her family to attend college, Katherine exemplifies the best of what top-tier universities around the world demand of students — fierce intellectual curiosity, disciplined creativity, and the unequivocal understanding that what is learned must be shared.”

Jimenez is passionate about creative writing and 20th-century literature that is primarily female-driven. She will visit Nicaragua this summer to interview women, children, and veterans of the Sandinista Revolution as research for a long-form essay connecting war trauma with the female narratives we see in women’s and Latino-American literature. Associate Professor of Journalism Scott Wallace serves as a mentor for her on that trip.

Jimenez has written for The Daily Campus – UConn’s student-run daily newspaper – and has also had internships at The Connecticut Mirror, a news website, and Connecticut Public Radio, where she still does freelance work.

“For nearly 50 years, the Beinecke Scholarship has been identifying rising stars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.  With just 20 scholarships awarded nationwide each year, this type of recognition requires a combination of scholarly self-awareness and clarity of voice that is exceedingly rare among students at any level,” says Vin Moscardelli, Director of UConn’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. “Katherine knows who she is as a scholar and she understands how her lived experience informs her writing.  But what is perhaps most impressive is her ability to articulate both of these things in ways that are as provocative as they are engaging.”

The Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships (ONSF) is a resource for students interested in learning more about the Beinecke Scholarship Program and other prestigious scholarships and fellowships that support study in all fields. ONSF is part of Enrichment Programs and is open to all graduate and undergraduate students at the University, including students at the regional campuses. For more information about the Beinecke Scholarship Program and other prestigious, nationally-competitive awards, please visit ONSF at www.onsf.uconn.edu