Is the FGCU Honors Program right for you?

The Honors Program at Florida Gulf Coast University allows students to study their majors in nontraditional ways.
The expanding program offers a diverse set of courses each semester, including six “experiences” that are based on specific educational concepts. The program’s goal is to work directly with students to award them hands-on experience in their studies. “Our Honors Program is not a traditional program where we simply have honors [classes],” said Dr. Sean Kelly, the director of the honor’s program. “We focus on high-impact educational experiences.”
The six “experiences” that students can choose from are accommodating and unique to the Honor’s Program. The First-Year Experience and the Liberal Arts Education Experience are built with classic interdisciplinary courses designed to acclimate students to college and the program. The Study Abroad/Away Experience gives student the opportunity to learn about a subject in its natural environment. Service Education focuses on community engagement through service learning and labs. “Honors in the Major” turns normal curriculum into honors courses by working one-on-one with a professor.
The hallmark of the Honors Program is the Research Experience, which requires that students write a thesis while doing a direct study or internship. “These non-traditional classes out in the field can help build a student’s portfolio and their direct work service skills,” said Kelly. Now developing a new two-part Research Experience, Kelly plans create a course to help journalism majors and scientists write about science and their work.
The science majors will take soil samples with the goal of identifying and sequencing new viruses, which will be sent to a national database. If a new virus is found, the students will be able to name the newly discovered virus themselves. During that process, journalism students will follow the progress and gain experience by reporting on it.
“Dr. Kelly really pushes experiencing the moments we have here in college and to experience as much as we can,” said Sonja Patfield, an honor’s student majoring in marine science.“
He makes it very easy to go outside of our box to look at new things by getting to know us personally. We’re working together now. The [professors] in the program are personalizing our courses around what we want to get from honors.” Kelly works with faculty and students to keep variety and interest in these experiences. He feels it stimulates the mind and personally and adds details to each annually. The Honors Program senior secretary, Carey Fells, has had the pleasure of working with Kelly and his students for many years.
“It really is something special to see the students develop in our program and literally getting to witness their minds and ambitions grow before me,” said Fells. “Seeing students and faculty being so resourceful to each other shows how much we care about each other and their education.”
The Honors Program includes approximately 440 students, all of whom have a grade point average of at least a 3.5. They are required to complete at least three experiences in order to graduate with honors, including the First Year Experience.
This elite program offers and average of 75/100 events per year which are often planned and organized by the students themselves. Secretary Fells and Dr. Kelly welcome any FGCU student wanting to learn more about the program contact them at Reed Hall 155.
They are open Monday through Friday from 9/5. The office phone number is 239-590-7490, and students can email Fells with questions at [email protected].
Geoffrey Stephens also contributed to this report.