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Honors Program has new resource available to test pilot

The Office of Undergraduate Scholarship is partnering with the Honors Program to test pilot the Student Opportunity Center, a new resource for students to excel in their fields of study.
The SOC, an online database with different possibilities for academic advancement, is now available for undergraduate members of the FGCU Honors Program to test-pilot. If proven effective, the SOC could become available for all FGCU students.
“The reason why is you have to pay to have access to this database,” said Clay Motley, director of the Honors Program, “and the university is partnering with our program, a subset of the FGCU population, to make sure it’s worth the university’s money and the student’s time and efforts.”
Some of the opportunities provided
by the SOC are competitive, voluntary and paid internships; service activities students can participate in; scholarship and funding programs; journals and magazines where students can publish their research work, and academic conferences.
The SOC works as a search engine where students can create a profile and generate results using different search terms of interest. Some of the search terms can be the student’s major and activity: for instance, “engineering conference.” However, the opportunities can be localized to a where and when, as well. This search with context allows students to search specifics. So, they can also search “engineering conference Southwest Florida summer 2016,” if that’s what they are looking for.
The Office of Undergraduate Scholarship, located in the second floor of Edwards Hall, was created this academic year in FGCU. This office’s main focus is to help students find and
pursue scholarly activities and provide mentoring through the process.
“We’re helping them develop and enhance primary skills of professionalization,” said Billy Gunnels, director of the undergraduate scholarship office. “We’re working with different offices on campus, and one of them is the Honors Program with this partnership.”
Motley thinks the SOC will help students network and build their resumes.
“Students can participate in different types of opportunities and gain hands-on experience to get connected to their careers,” Motley said.
Gunnels said the test pilot period is projected to last at least a year.
“At least a year because a lot of it will be summer-oriented,” Gunnels said. “It’s going to take a while to make sure it’s a useful tool.”

“It takes a little while for these things to take root,” Motley said.
Gunnels said about seven faculty members will monitor the use of the program in the next year. These monitors will see what opportunities students find, pursue and actually get to experience.
“(Faculty members) spend a lot of time finding ways that will help students,” Gunnels said. “This could be a resource for that. We’ll find out where do we need to improve.”

Gunnels also said the SOC can be beneficial for the FGCU campus itself.
“Students could bring back what they learned and start working with our campus to make that opportunity a powerful experience,” Gunnels said. “Actually, spectacular.” Nora Johnson, a member of the Honors Program, plans to use the resource to its maximum.
“Nowadays an undergraduate degree is not enough — your degree has to be supported by more than a great GPA,” Johnson said. “The SOC is going to help us find the experiences and find the opportunities that will make our resumes stand out.”

“I wasn’t aware this was available for Honors students,” said Daniel Franco, an Honors mentor. “But I believe it’s a valuable resource.”
“I encourage all Honors students to use the database and truly experience what it is. That way important feedback can be provided to the university,” Franco said.

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