Kent State Honors College Student Announced as 2021 Portz Scholar

Sarah Hagglund Named 10th Honoree in History of Kent State

The National Collegiate Honors Council has announced Kent State University Honors College graduate Sarah Hagglund as a 2021 Portz Scholar. Hagglund is the 10th honors student from Kent State to be named a Portz Scholar since the national competition began in 1990. 

Photo of 2021 Portz Scholar Sarah Hagglund, posing for the camera in green/white polka dot shirt.

"Each year, the NCHC awards four Portz Prizes, one to a student in each of the four broad academic areas, in a competition for most excellent undergraduate thesis," Honors College Dean Alison J. Smith, Ph.D., notes. "Sarah receives this year’s Portz Prize in the Humanities, becoming our 10th Portz scholar. We are so proud of Sarah for her outstanding scholarship and we note the excellent advising she received from her thesis co-advisors, Dr. Gustav Medicus (School of Art) and Dr. Matthew Crawford (Department of History)."

Hagglund graduated from the Honors College at Kent State University in May of 2021 with University Honors and Distinction in History. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Kent State in history and anthropology. She was also inducted as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, in 2020. Hagglund states that she always had an interest in completing a Senior Honors Thesis, since it was first mentioned to her by her honors academic advisor, Frank Congin. Hagglund says, “I figured the thesis would provide some really good practical experience for grad school and I was really excited to have the opportunity to research a topic I could choose and explore on my own.” 

Hagglund’s award-winning thesis is entitled, "The Myth of Bologna? Women's Cultural Production During the Seventeenth Century." She explains that her thesis “approaches the experiences of women in the city of Bologna through three lenses: history, art, and material culture.” Hagglund says that it also investigates the difference in opportunities presented to women of different social classes during that time period. The city of Bologna was said to have been described as a place of progressive culture for the female population, where women were afforded opportunities that far exceeded the culture norm present in other city-states at that time. Through her thesis, Hagglund explores why there was such a difference in opportunities available to women in Bologna, as opposed to other areas, and she also investigates if this statement about the women of Bologna was indeed true for females in all social classes.

“I had so many supporters throughout the process of my thesis,” Hagglund explains. “My two thesis advisors, Dr. Matthew Crawford of the History Department and Dr. Gustav Medicus of the School of Art, devoted so much of their time and energy to helping me succeed.” She adds, “They championed my voice but also challenged me to produce a thesis which I am now very proud of.”

Hagglund explains that her work with Crawford and Medicus took place over three semesters, beginning her junior year, and that all work “took place during the stress and uncertainty of the COVID pandemic.” She notes that she and her two thesis advisors did not have a single in-person meeting until after her thesis was complete and her defense had taken place. The Portz Scholar acknowledges, “They stuck with me through it all.”

Hagglund was admitted into the Honors College at Kent State University as a freshman from Westerville, OH, and spent her first two years of college living in the Honors College Living-Learning Community in Johnson Hall. While attending Kent State, Hagglund interned as a curatorial assistant for the Kent State University Museum, working with the now recently opened exhibition TEXTURES. After the internship, she was hired to continue as a collections assistant at the museum for her work on the TEXTURES exhibition.

Her impressive resume includes travels to study abroad on three separate occasions during her undergraduate career, including trips to the Kent State Florence Summer Institute, the Jewish Studies Holocaust Perceptions and Remembrance Spring Break Program, and the inaugural Presidential Leadership Program to Prague with Anglo-American University.

Hagglund explains that upon completion of her current graduate coursework at Boston University for her Master of Arts in History of Art and Architecture, she may decide to pursue a PhD, but eventually hopes to land a career in museum curation.

Hagglund is one of only four students selected as a 2021 Portz Scholar from a pool of highly competitive honors students from across the country. The NCHC institutional members may select one thesis paper written by an undergraduate honors student per institution to nominate for the Portz Scholars program each academic year. Hagglund, along with her three fellow scholar recipients, will participate in a 20-minute presentation of her thesis at the National Collegiate Honors Conference this fall. 

The Portz Scholars Program of the NCHC began in 1990 to recognize John and Edythe Portz for their involvement with and support of Honors education. The Kent State University Honors College continues to rank as one of the top Portz Scholar recipient-producing honors programs in the country, with a total count of 10 scholars to date, including Hagglund. The most current Portz Scholar recipients of the Honors College include Megan Swoger (2018) and Dorvan Byler (2015).






PHOTO CAPTION: Photo of 2021 Portz Scholar Sarah Hagglund, posing for the camera in green/white polka dot shirt.


Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal,, 330-672-2312


POSTED: Wednesday, September 15, 2021 03:50 PM
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 23, 2024 08:27 PM
Honors College Marketing Coordinator, Stephanie Moskal