Janssen Award

Janssen Award

Thanks to the generosity of Penn State alumnus Ernie Janssen, the Janssen Family Prize in Asian Studies is awarded each Spring to the top graduate in each of our four majors: Asian Studies, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Awardees receive a medal to wear at graduation and a prize of $500.

Learn More About Ernie Janssen

Ernie graduated from the College of the Liberal Arts in 1965 as a History major. He spent six years as an officer in the US Navy, including one year in Vietnam. During his career, Ernie worked as a fuel broker for 31 years. 18 of those years were spent as junior owner of the Bunkerfuels Corporation. After that, he spent 11 years as a co-owner of Kristensons Petroleum Inc. Both companies were international leaders in the field. 

Ernie is an active alum. He was a member of the College of the Liberal Arts Alumni Society Board for eleven years, and spent two as President! Currently, he’s a member of the University-wide Global Advisory Council, and has been for five years.

Ernie is a major supporter of the Department of Asian Studies, and we are grateful for his continued generosity!

Past Awardees:


Asian Studies: Longsha Wei

Chinese: Nicholas McKee

Japanese: Nykeima Roberts

Korean: Kathleen Cempa


Asian Studies: Harrison Brennan

Chinese: Nora Van Horn

Japanese: Lia O’Leary

Korean: Rachel Bodnar


Asian Studies: Alexandra Elkins

Chinese: Rayna Marshall

Japanese: Minkyung Kan


Asian Studies: Tomas Aguon

Chinese: Aimee Pizarchik

Japanese: Kyra Scheuren


Asian Studies: Cullen Edwards

Chinese: Matthew Tracey

Japanese: Yingjiao (Jennie) Wang


Asian Studies: Benjamin Black. Benjamin Black also received the Center for Global Studies Thesis Prize for his thesis, “Incidents in the South China Sea: Exploring the Chinese Perspective of the Disputes.” He also received Honorable Mention in the 2018 Paterno Fellows Best Thesis Awards.”

Chinese: Sarah Bastian. Sarah Bastian also received the Center for Global Studies Thesis Prize for her thesis “‘Let the World to Hear our Voice’: Investment in Spoken English for English Majors in China.”

Japanese: Richard Gardner


Asian Studies: Eben Eleazer

Chinese: Bolanie Ajibola

Japanese: Gena Aiello


Asian Studies: Kayla de Stefano

Chinese: Elyse Mark

Japanese: Yi Yu Kwai


Asian Studies: Jason Klanderman

Chinese: Charles Higgs

Japanese: Ashley Schoonover

Other Awards: Ashlyn McKee – awarded the Center for Global Studies Thesis Prize for her thesis “Taiwan and the Catalysts of National Identity Formation.”