Principal’s Medal: Simone Korsgaard Jensen

Lauren Sykes
Tuesday 13 June 2023

Presented by Professor Dame Sally Mapstone FRSE

Tuesday 13 June – morning ceremony

I would now like to introduce the Principal’s Medal. This award was inaugurated 14 years ago with a gift from three anonymous donors and is supported by Ede and Ravenscroft, believed to be the oldest firm of tailors and robe-makers in the world.

The award of the Principal’s Medal recognises students who display exceptional endeavour and achievement during their time at St Andrews. The awards are open to final-year undergraduates and postgraduates in any discipline, and the achievements celebrated are both academic and extracurricular.

For this academic year, the Principal’s Medal is being awarded to two truly outstanding students. Today we recognise Simone Korsgaard Jensen, who has just received the degree of Master in Mathematics with Honours. The MMath combines undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single five-year programme, enabling students to graduate with a Masters degree.

Simone is, first and foremost, a formidable scholar. Having entered directly into the second year of her course, she has repeatedly made the Dean’s List for outstanding academic achievement.

Simone’s academic excellence has been recognised on an international level, as she was chosen for a competitive study abroad opportunity at UCLA during her Junior Honours year in 2021-22, winning the highest scholarship available to facilitate this experience.

At UCLA, she excelled academically, ranking as the top-performing student in her class and being invited to take both MBA and PhD-level classes there, despite being an undergraduate. Simone continued to shine in these classes, placing in the top ten percent of students in her MBA negotiations class – an achievement that merits emphasis given that UCLA has one of the top business schools in the world.

Additionally, while attending the PhD-level engineering classes at UCLA, Simone produced a research paper applying data science techniques to turbulent flow data.

Simone’s excellence in the classroom has been replicated in professional environments. She founded her own start-up, SmartBooks, in her second year at St Andrews.

SmartBooks brings learning to life by creating primary school maths books paired with augmented reality apps. As founder and CEO of SmartBooks, Simone manages a team of five people and has won multiple pitch competitions, including UCLA 1000 pitches and StartUp Labs Accelerator. As testament to Simone’s brilliant endeavours, SmartBooks has received more than £28,000 in start-up awards and merit-based scholarships.

In 2022, Simone was the only undergraduate student to participate in the prestigious UCLA Venture Accelerator, an eight-week MBA startup programme that involved presenting to, and networking with, high-net-worth executives on a weekly basis.

At the end of the programme, Simone pitched SmartBooks to more than 200 investors at a showcase hosted by Google in California. Simone was the youngest presenter at this event by around a decade and she was described as the top performer of the night.

This type of success has become a pattern for Simone, with SmartBooks also being selected as one of 28 teams, out of a pool of 50,000 applications, to attend the UN-backed Hult prize accelerator, enabling her to spend a month in Boston participating in daily social entrepreneurship workshops and frequently pitching SmartBooks to large audiences.

Simone has since continued to develop her startup with dedication and is working on raising £1.5 million in investments for SmartBooks in order to continue to expand augmented reality education, with the clear understanding that augmented reality is one of the fastest growing areas of modern technology and with the vision that SmartBooks will lead change in this area.

However, Simone is not only a brilliant student, a talented inventor, and an astute businessperson, she is also an accomplished athlete and has competed nationally for the University’s first team in tennis. She is a two-time Scottish Student Sport doubles champion, a Scottish Student Singles Finalist, and a St Andrews Singles Champion.

In taking in all of these achievements, and her very many others, it is clear that Simone possesses exceptional rigour, talent, and ambition, which show no signs of abating.

Simone, in recognition of your many accomplishments both academically and personally during your time as an undergraduate, it gives me great pleasure to bestow upon you the Principal’s Medal.

Posted in

Related topics