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The Honors program expands


Jessica Baker is writing a book. Or at least, one chapter of a book. This is because Baker, along with fi ve other students in the Honors Program, is taking a class called Honors Directed Independent Research: Animals and Ethics. The goal of the class, which is taught by the director of the honors program, Dr. Sean Kelly, is to create a book about eating ethically in Southwest Florida. “It’s one of my favorite classes because it’s engaging … Any class where the teacher is teaching his passion- you can’t go wrong,” said Baker.
Animals and Ethics is one of many classes that the Honors Program provides for its students that focus not necessarily on a high level of diffi culty but on tangible results and interdisciplinary experiences.
“Student Affairs does an awesome job getting students involved in clubs and leadership – but we [the Honors Program] tend to teach students how to take advantage of the University by really throwing you into it,” said Kelly.
“Honors students are exposed from day one to the opportunities at FGCU.”
Perhaps that is why 110 students attended the Honors Program’s open house this fall, and 61 students actually applied to the program. The process involved a written application, a group interview with current honors students, and an individual interview with professors involved in the Honors Program.
Thirty-fi ve students were accepted through this process, including freshman Paul Berlinsky, who joined the program because he said, “It offers a lot of opportunities, a lot of scholarships, a lot of study abroad…”
One student who has taken advantage of the study-abroad aspect of honors is math major Molly Honecker, who spent two weeks in Edinburgh at the International Theatre Festival and the Fringe Festival this summer thanks to an honors scholarship. “It’s so perfect there. The culture is fascinating. We were on the Royal Mile which was built in the 1500s … there were churches that were hundreds and hundreds of years old … I would go again in a heartbeat,” Honecker said.
As the program grows, it will continue to bring in what Dr. Kelly calls “top students.” Currently, the average honors student has at least a 3.5 GPA, and the top 20 percent of these students earned an ACT score of 31 or higher. Kelly said he does expect the program to continue to grow, but not purely for growth’s sake. “If we’re growing just to grow, that’s a bad thing” Kelly said. “We won’t take on more students than we can develop.”
This development doesn’t come solely from classes. Many honors students are members of honors leadership. Finance major Karen Muhl is one of two senators in charge of the “business cohort,” Muhl said.
“I’ve learned a lot about communicating with large groups of people, reading and actually understanding evaluations, and learning to plan effectively for specific events.”
The Honors Program also involves a lot of events put on for and by students.
Gala Hoffman is a senior who recently put on a “grocery bingo” event where more than 150 students attended to eat, get to know each other, and win bags of food donated by Whole Foods. The event involved catering, a hired magician, a DJ and a lively atmosphere, Muhl said that has made many students call it their favorite honors event.
Hoffman says, “honors has given me the opportunity to take on a leadership role that has greatly helped me grow for my professional career.”
While many students enjoy honors because of how it helps them develops professionally, it is also a program that develops a tight-knit community of learners. Johnny Baker is an engineering major. “I think my favorite thing about honors is that when you fi rst get here at FGCU, you already have a community of people to hang out with, with common interests,” Baker said.
The application process to join the Honors Program will be opened again in Feb. 2014. To learn more about the program, please visit: Honors/index.html

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