Northeast News and Notes – The Official Student Blog of NRHC
May 8th, 2018
Good afternoon. It is my honor to speak to all of you today.
I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of you and hearing your presentations. I am delighted that so many of you were able to apply our conference theme to your research.
Our conference theme: “The Renaissance of a Lively Experiment: Seeing Anew” goes back to Roger Williams’ foundation of Rhode Island as a colony for all faiths – a controversial and risky idea at the time.
What is great about experiments, and as scholars you all know this, is that you do not always know the outcome of your work. Only after trials, tests, research, revisions and questions, can you see the result of your experiment. Not knowing the answers before you start – not knowing whether you will succeed or fail – does that change your desire to conduct that experiment?
An experiment is exactly that- something you’re trying. We don’t always get it on the first try! Now, there are plenty of philosophers and scholars with profound and great perspectives on failure, but I’ll give you something that is a little different. That powerful message of determination is echoed in a children’s book I was reading to my niece a little while ago. Rosie Revere the Engineer. This little girl loves to imagine and invent machines and contraptions. One day, when her flying machine took off and quickly crashed, people around her laughed at her and she got discouraged. Her aunt then steps in with these powerful words: “Your brilliant first flop was a raging success! Come on, let’s get busy and on to the next!” She handed a notebook to Rosie revere who smiled at her aunt as it all became clear! Life may have its failures but this was NOT it. The only true failure can come if you quit.”
I understand that failure can be scary. There is a lot that is unknown about life. There is a lot of uncertainty. When I started college, I was met with two failures right in my first semester. The first was trying out for the swim team. While I had been offered scholarships for swim teams in the United States, Canadian school do not recruit their athletes, they want you to try out. So, I tried out for the swim team and after a week of tryouts I found out that I didn’t make the team. I swam competitively since I was 7 years old and didn’t know what to do with myself.
My next failure came when I failed calculus in college. That failure was such an embarrassment and I was so ashamed. It was so unlike me to “fail.” So much so, that when I told my parents about it they started laughing because they thought it was a joke. I had to stop them and tell them I was serious.
At 18, a freshman in college when I am supposed to “figure out life” I was faced with two big failures. When I failed calculus I realized I needed to find a better fit- and failing forced me to reassess what I was looking for in a major: it was through my failure that I discovered international development studies and political science as a double major and took on French as a minor. Looking back, I can tell you that even though that F still haunts my transcript, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me because from that failure I found my path.
As for the swim team, it did not take me too long to make up for the loss. I joined clubs and ran for officer positions, I became an RA, and I met my boyfriend who is now my husband. My life would have been very different had I spent 4 hours every day in the pool. I will always wonder how fast I could have been, but I think I would wonder more about what I might have missed.
When you think about it, it is kind of crazy to pick a major and plan for a career at 18 years old. Some of us pick a path and stick stubbornly to it even if it does not fulfill us, some of us do not get a chance to wonder why we are doing what we are doing or think that we reach a point where it is too late to change our minds.
How many of you entered college undeclared? How many of you changed majors? How many of you have no idea what you want to do after you graduate? For those of you who raised your hand I am here to tell you that is all ok! For those of you who didn’t raise your hand – that’s cool – but either way you should be asking questions and doing research to find or to reaffirm the path for you.
Now that I told you I majored in political science and international development studies, you might assume that I am a college professor now. I am actually not- I am a full time administrator. How I ended up in higher education is a long story- less about failure and more about taking a risk and trying something unexpected. Never would I have thought I would be able to meet my career goals of working with people and making a difference in the world by working in a college. But, I am so grateful all my twists and turns have led me here.
Three years ago, there was a call for nominations for a Vice President for the Northeast Regional Honors Council. I thought I would be considered inexperienced but I knew I could do the job! I decided to take a chance and throw my name into the running. I was so happy when I learned I was elected! Now I stand before you as the NRHC President and it is really an honor to serve you, represent you, and learn from you. I am very grateful for the team of board members from whom I have been able to learn from and to collaborate, innovate, and create. Thank you for your support!
To our students- you inspire us every day. Your risks and lively experiments are going to make an incredible impact on this world- so don’t give up! Don’t quit! And yes, fail!
The sooner we can embrace failure and reject aspirations for perfection, the sooner we will be able to cherish every moment and revel in our lively experiment that are our lives.
March 12th, 2018
Submission by Erik Lascano of William Paterson University.
Professor Doris White took her first year cluster group to the Whitney Museum in NYC.
March 6th, 2018
My Honors Experience
by Odile Martinez Jimenez – Monroe College
When I came into Honors, I had just graduated high school, and I felt that I wanted an extra push. In high school, I was a very active student, at least academically. Although I arrived to this country while I was in the middle of my senior year, that did not stop me from keeping the academic trend I had set out for myself. While finishing my senior year, I excelled academically, and while for some people that might seem like success in the academic life, that was not it for me. I wanted to belong to something, to some type of community, one in which the people in it would share my desire to have a prosperous future in the academic environment.
When I reached college, I received this email out of nowhere, telling me that I had been accepted into the Honors Program. I was thrilled. To some people, being part of another club or program in college can be a ‘drag’, for me on the contrary, it is quite exciting. At first, my schedule did not have an Honors class, which was really disappointing. Thankfully, I got in contact with Professor MacDonald, the coordinator of the Honors Program at Monroe College, and spoke to her about having an Honors class in my schedule. In all honesty, Professor MacDonald is someone that would really go the extra mile for you, she is dedicated to her students and to the program.
Honors is my way of expressing my feelings of wanting to succeed above all. You might call me a high achiever, and well, that might be the truth, but the funny thing is that there’s nothing wrong with being a high achiever. In Honors, you are pushed just that extra bit necessary so that you can show your true potential. Yes, sometimes I get that essay that is due next class, but in that essay, I can express all of my imagination. There might be situations in which we feel like too much is being demanded from us, and while sometimes that might be true, and in those cases, you should take a look at your options and breath for a moment. Other times, things are being demanded from us so that we can show our true abilities, and so that we are able to develop ourselves to the full extent.
In the Honors Program, I have been able to develop that part of myself that I felt was not being used in high school. Thanks to Honors, we are able to live experiences, meet people, and do things that would have been hard to do otherwise.
November 13th, 2017
Erik Lascano, William Patterson University
The Insight and Benefit of Conversations Held in My Fall 2017 Honors Course, with Regards to Technology and Humanity.
Perhaps the most I have benefited from pursuing a track in humanities honors is the value of dialogue. It is one thing to think thoughts, and quite another to express them with your peers who share the similar passion of nuance and insight provided by the what we read.Humanity’s purpose at its core is to allow one to become a citizen of the world and to gain a cosmopolitan perspective with oneself and the world.In the process, what we learn through reading texts novels, books, and etc, we also enliven it through the creativity bubble that a classroom discussion provides. To put it simply, it is the bicep curls for both the mind and the soul.
This year’s humanities-based course, that I am taking, focuses on technology and humanity. Thus far, I believe that we are doing more than just intellectual meandering that many STEM educated scholars have criticized the philosophers of today. I believe, it is quite contemporary and a much-needed discussion as we are coming to value more and more the software of technology, while it is becoming increasingly ubiquitous and explosive with regards to its intelligence. To illustrate this sentiment, there was an assignment we had to write about tieing together the overall skepticism and pessimism to how technology is in effect changing what it means to be human in the modern world.
Specifically, I wrote more about the phenomena Nicholas Carr wrote about with regards to what technology is doing to us and the title of his gives it away, at least his own agenda, “Is Google Making us Stupid!?”. Carr describes what I argue against, that our psychology, as well as our mind, are being hijacked by the fruits of technology’s intelligence explosion.He says, “I’m not the only one. When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances―literary types, most of them―many say they’re having similar experiences. The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing. Some of the bloggers I follow have also begun mentioning the phenomenon. Scott Karp, who writes a blog about online media, recently confessed that he has stopped reading books altogether. “I was a lit major in college, and used to be [a] voracious book reader,” he wrote. “What happened?” He speculates on the answer: “What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e. I’m just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?” I take this to be at least a starting point to what actually might be going on. As Carr states, “Anecdotes alone don’t prove much. And we still await the long-term neurological and psychological experiments that will provide a definitive picture of how Internet use affects cognition.”
He then begins to say, which I agree with, that technology may, in fact, be shaping ourselves to its image but what follows is what I do not agree with.Carr believes as if, we had never been shaped by phenomena such as technology. However, I agree it is exactly analogous to what nature does to us. We are ever adapting to environments and our environment, biologically speaking has helped shape us into its own image. We have no say in the manner of why our psychology is the way it is and why even our biology is the way it is. Nature has indeed shaped us to be the human beings we are, and it is this fact which perhaps gets confused that effects of technology are mutually exclusive to the effects of the human condition which nature had shaped. I mention psychology and biology because it could perhaps be that psychologically speaking we are always affected by our environment and technology is pernicious in the way Carr explains, because of how ubiquitous and subtle it is within our experiences. Biologically it could be that were developed to not read, to begin with, or even develop language, both of which were not evolutionary benefited adapted behaviors and fairly new in man’s existence.
Thus, I believe yes it does reorganize our brain in its own image however, we were always in this perpetual mode. The downside is that it might just be something we never actually were prepared to control in the first place, Carr states that we really do not know how the effects, to the predisposition we have, if they are amplified or indistinguishably new by technology.I believe it is rather a change in degree not of kind, and Carr argues against this position.I do, however, agree with his overall sentiment that it is problem that we cannot look over and be always skeptical of technology.
Lastly, we were to defend if thinking slow is necessary for technology rather than thinking fast. I ended up more so defending that slow is really too slow, and fast is not fast enough because there are going to be such problems that would not have been dealt with if we did not try to innovate a way to solve it. Moreover, if we ever do solve the alignment problem with AI, e.g. AI mirroring and emulating our values so as to not go fraudulent on us. Thus, a powerful omnipotent and/or omnipresent intelligent AI will always come to bear insights and issues we never thought of, because of the limitations of the intelligence and creativity our human myopia. Technology is always one step ahead of us because its conclusions are just so vast and beyond our intellectual nearsighted.
I concluded in the paper, what may help us control the influences of technology is better technology, i.e. specific technology to get rid of influences we don’t like and for others to be more skeptical in enhancing the ones we may seem to like that will have undesired conclusions. After talking about our papers and discussing similar fraught outcomes of technology and its influence on us, we all came out reevaluating our beliefs. Through conversation alone, we changed and informed misconceptions of technology and this is the value of talking with others that you agree with and disagree with.We all came out more reasonable and sensible with regards to the topic. All we have to combat bad ideas, irrational thinking, and unscientific skepticism in the world, in a secular and pacifistic way, is dialogue and more conversation. Reason is what we are not slaves to, but more so that we are not agnostic about if there really is any other mode to value and to use indispensable in dialogue.
September 8th, 2017
Beneath the Surface: Living the “Honors” Life
Hi everyone, my name is Nathanael Linton. For most of my life, I have been involved in education as an Honors student. From taking advanced classes in public school to joining the Honors Program at my college, “Honors” is literally a part of me. The experiences that I had as an Honors student not only strengthened me academically, but also helped my personal life. Although some people may argue that pursuing Honors or advanced programs are unnecessary, these types of programs are essential to all students because of all the benefits that one can gain from joining them.
As you know, the word “Honors” can be very controversial. Some people see it as students having to complete rigorous amounts of work for little reward. The reward that many people think they will receive is an honorary sash, ribbon, and a certificate showing they have completed Honors (I received these things). Former classmates have asked me, “Nate, why do you complete all of this work just to receive a sash?” My answer to this was (and still is), “Honors is more than a piece of fabric to wear at graduation.” These types regalia are used to commemorate and “honor” the Honors student. Although it represents the physical achievement of completing such a program, it does not equate to the life experiences that a student can gain from joining the program. The lessons and experiences that I have gained from joining the Honors Program has helped me in more way than I can imagine.
Joining Honors Programs has its benefits. One benefit is the rewards (more than a sash). I am now a junior, and I attend Pace University; I am also a member of their Honors College. Prior to transferring to Pace, my first two years of college was completed at SUNY Orange (Orange County Community College). At SUNY Orange, I got so many rewards, and was recognized for the amazing feats that I accomplished. For example, I received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award- this is the highest award a student can receive within the SUNY system, only three students from SUNY Orange received this award. The special thing about this award is that for the first time, all three students were Honors students! Another reward I received was being inaugural Northeast Regional Honors Council “Student of the Year for Two Year Schools.” I was the first Honors student to receive this, and many will follow me afterward. The last example is even here at my new college, Pace. As of right now, I am the first transfer to be accepted into the Honors College at Pace University as a junior. I have reached many milestones being in Honors, and I would never have to ponder whether “Honors” is a path for me; I have always done it, and will continue to do so.
Even though Honors can bring a student prestige and recognition, it can do more than that. The rewards are great, but eventually they will rust and be forgotten. I joined Honors for the experiences that I could make. I exceeded all my expectations, and that is worth more than an award to me. Honors has helped me build long-lasting friendships. Even being at Pace, I remain connected to my friends although they go to different schools. Honors has helped me financially; I went to SUNY Orange on a full academic scholarship, and received many scholarships for Pace as well. Most importantly, Honors inspired me. Although I was a good student in high school, joining the Honors Program at SUNY Orange and now Pace, I realized that can succeed in anything. I have been blessed to learn from people who strive for knowledge and growth, and these same people share a passion to learn- just like me. My life has been blessed because of Honors, much more than words can describe.
In the end, what can a person gain from Honors? This question has multiple answers- it is up to the Honors student to decide. Honors helped many aspects of my life, more than academics. So far it has paved the way for my education, but I believe that one day it can help me build a foundation for myself, and for my family. Beneath the surface, “Honors” is more than a title- it’s a lifestyle worth living, and I am proud to live it.
May 15th, 2017
Presidential Address: “Honors and the Universal Citizen”
In 1971 the great Hannah Arendt published her monumental and last book The Life of the Mind, a book (which is much more than a book) that analyzed the act of thinking in the contemporary world. Of course, our conception of the contemporary has evolved greatly since 1971, but Arendt’s analysis still holds up today. In the beginning of that work she states:
“Living beings, men and animals, are not just in the world, they are of the world.” Let me quote that again: “Living beings, men and animals, are not just in the world, they are of the world.[i]
What, exactly, does it mean to be of the world? I think we come closest to an understanding of this when we begin to really investigate what it means to think, and think deeply, which means reflectively and not in terms of data. If human beings are of the world then it stands to reason that our capacity to think places us simultaneously inside and outside a hermeneutic circle. One can be, one must be, in the world and of the world, simultaneously. This is perhaps what Samuel Schuman was reaching for when he wrote that honors students were people too. In other words, we need to re-think the concept of student (and, indeed honors itself) holistically, and not solely from a disciplinary perspective.
In his series of lectures on thinking Martin Heidegger makes the following declaration:
“Most thought-provoking in our though-provoking time, is that we are still not thinking.”[ii]
Heidegger was writing in the 1950s, but he could have been commenting on contemporary society. Heidegger’s statement may seem more than a little odd given the velocity with which technology is “improving” our lives. Through technology we are more connected than ever, and the world has indeed grown smaller, more intimate. But, I fear, that technology has also made us less aware of the differences that divide us. Specifically, given the recent turn toward the far right in the global political arena, those divides are increasing, growing ever wider. It has also made us a lot less self-aware. In other words, I fear we have become less aware of ourselves and our place in society. With the advent of social media we have reduced ourselves to avatars, to personas with no souls. In Arendtian terms, we are no longer of the world, just in it.
And yet, as I walked around the various panels this morning, I was amazed by the work that is being done by you. As young scholars you are certainly reacting to and reaching toward the larger intellectual conversation. You are all doing good work. But is this enough? Is it enough to conduct your research, take part in the odd conference here and there, and perhaps even publish on occasion? Is it enough to want to succeed in a world that is already so preoccupied with success? One wonders about responsibility and commitment, especially in the age of the selfie.
A few years ago I was sitting right where you are now, listening to Margaret Roman deliver her own Presidential address in Philadelphia. I remember how inspired I was listening to her words, and that I wanted to do more, that I felt inspired to do more. On the morning we were to leave, I had about an hour to kill so I decided to walk around Liberty Hall one last time. It was a clear and cool morning, and as I threaded my way up from the hotel I came across two homeless men sitting on a bench chatting away. All of their worldly possessions were lying on the ground next to them. I heard once again Dr. Roman’s call to action. Not being in a position to do much, I went across the street to a café and ordered two large coffees. I gathered up enough cream and sugar, and then made my way back to the homeless men sitting on the bench. I was hesitant to approach them because I didn’t want to offend them. I sheepishly went up to them and offered them the coffee. They looked at me for a second, only a second, and said, “No thanks.” I was left with two large coffees and a bag of sugar and cream. I was dejected, or perhaps a better word is rejected! Okay, so things didn’t go as planned, but it was not enough to deter me from trying again. My feelings became irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things.
The reality is that we often do good deeds because we know that it will make us feel good, or, worse still, it will look good on a resume. You may argue that the intention is irrelevant given the overwhelming need for such deeds, but, again, we may tell ourselves this in order to feel good about what we do. Honors, especially in this region, has always been an organization with a strong sense of commitment, of attempting to bridge the various divides that separate us from one another. But is it enough? The answer is no, but then, we can only do so much in a world that needs so much. As an educational organization we are first and foremost interested in academics, in scholarship. But I would ask that we ponder the words of Arendt and Heidegger over the coming year. To re-consider why it is we do what we do, both academically and civically. I want to be clear: I am not trying to dismiss these things, nor am I asking you to give them up, I’m simply asking you to re-think the divide that separates thinking and action.
Last year the theme of our annual conference was “Migrations,” and we explored that concept on a number of levels. At the time Europe was under a deluge of migrants attempting to reach a promised land. We recall the images. This year our theme is “Bridging the Divide,” a theme as important and timely as migrations was last year. With all of the political rhetoric concerning walls, I am proud to stand here among you taking part in a conversation about bridges. Moreover, this year’s theme is a wonderful continuation of the conversation that began last year. All of which brings me to my theme: an honors community that also strives for a universal citizenship. I use the word “universal” rather than global because the concept of globalism has been corrupted by the free market and as such has become bankrupt. The term universal also transcends the geopolitical boundaries of nations, nationalisms, and passports. By taking part in the thinking that goes on in conferences like this, indeed, in our respective programs, we are acknowledging the fact that we are engaged with others in a conversation that seeks to further develop that conversation. But let is not keep this within our regional or national honors organizations. Instead, we must extend our thinking in various ways and in various modes, we must aim to go beyond the borders of our own comfort zones.
The fabulous Elena Ferrante remarks:
“Borders make us feel stable. At the first hint of conflict, at the least threat, we close them. The border serves to gather us into a unit, to diminish the hidden centrifugal thrusts that undermine our identity. But it’s purely appearance. A story begins when, one after another, our borders collapse.”[iii]
The interdisciplinary nature of honors is itself resistant to the concept of borders, and I would caution this region about staying within the safety of its own borders; be it disciplinary or regional. Let me offer another personal example.
In 2012 I traveled to Prague to take part in an interdisciplinary conference whose theme was suffering. For three days about twenty people from various disciplines, some academic, but most not, met to discuss this common theme. For three days I sat next to an intellectual from the University of Tehran in Iran. We chatted, mostly small talk, nothing political, and it was pleasant enough. On the last day of the conference we each were asked to say what we liked most about the sessions. Everyone had interesting things to say, but when my turn came I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind: “I loved the fact that an Iranian and an American can sit next to one another for three days and actually get along.” It was simple, yet effective. We all clapped. And this is my point: I see honors as a bright light illuminating the darkness of oppression and intolerance, to say nothing of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia to name only a few. As I write these words gay men are being rounded up, arrested, and killed in Chechnya. As I write these words chemical weapons have once again been used in Syria, killing so many innocent men, women, and children. As I write these words one of my son’s best friend, a 12 year-old legal immigrant from Bosnia is afraid that the current U. S. government is going to deport him for being a Muslim. As I write these words our current President is working to stifle the freedom of the press. As I write these words the people of Flint, Michigan still lack access to safe drinking water. As I write these words women are still not being paid as much as men.
Our true calling, our true mission, if we can call it that, is to strive to become universal citizens, citizens of a shared and engaged humanity. The essence of our universal citizenship is the concept of care, of compassion, of a willingness to speak the truth to power, in the way suggested by Edward Said. My hope for you, for all of you, is that you transcend the current that would force you to become nothing more than thoughtless consumers in an age of unprecedented greed. There is hope here, there is intelligence, and there is determination. In one of my classes this semester we are currently reading Cesare Pavese’s brilliant novel The Moon and the Bonfires. One of the characters, Nuto, a peasant from the north of Italy, remarks that “The world is badly made and you have to remake it.”[iv] It’s a refrain that seems to carry on generation after generation. Nevertheless, I find the sentiment to be true. “The world is badly made.” But, with all of you doing the work you do, by continuing to engage in the world and to resist the ghettoization of the world (in the way that Salman Rushdie defines the term), I see a bright spot on the horizon. But what we do at conferences is not enough. We must remind ourselves that we are just as much of the world as we are in the world.
I would like to leave you with some words from Margaret Atwood’s astounding 1988 novel, Cat’s Eye:
“Now it’s full night, clear, moonless and filled with stars, which are not eternal as once was thought, which are not where we think they are. If they were sounds, they would be echoes, of something that happened millions of years ago: a word made of numbers. Echoes of light, shining out of the midst of nothing.
It’s an old light, and there’s not much of it. But it’s enough to see by.”[v]
[i] Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind. Orlando, Florida: A Harvest Book. 1978. (page 20).
[ii] Heidegger, Martin. What Calls for Thinking? Trans. J. Glenn Gray. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers. 1968.
[iii] Ferrante, Elena. Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey. Trans. Ann Goldstein. New York: Europa Editions. 2016. (page 326).
[iv] Pavese, Cesare. The Moon and the Bonfires. Trans. R. W. Flint. New York: New York Review Books Classics, 2002. (page 33).
[v] Atwood, Margaret. Cat’s Eye. New York: Doubleday, 1988. (page 446).
April 10th, 2017
Thank you to everyone who attended! We enjoyed another wonderful conference and look forward to seeing you next year in Rhode Island!
Here are some links Dr. Withers has asked us to share with you:
- Mark Horvath piece: https://medium.com/@hardlynormal/giving-money-to-homeless-people-is-okay-41361adfe2fa
- Jack Preger: http://mediaindia.eu/tv-video/in-conversation-with-dr-jack-preger/
April 5th, 2017
Please remember to bring in donations for Operation Safety Net!
March 7th, 2016
A Message from Your Student Leaders:
When I first wrote my statement running for Student Representative for the Northeast Regional Honors Council after my very first conference, I had doubts about whether I would get elected or not. I knew that there were many other suitable candidates running for the position. That is why I was surprised when I got the news about officially getting elected as Student Rep, I could not be more excited!
Immediately I started brainstorming ideas for the ice breaker on Thursday, the Talent Show on Friday, and the gala on Saturday. I have worked with a team of individuals in planning these events including Erika Caires from Merrimack College and Hilary De Silvia, who is also from Monroe College.
Planning and preparing for conference has not been an easy task, and I knew that it would be a very challenging once when I signed up for it. Nonetheless, it is not a decision I regret as I have learned immensely from it. I have learned more about leadership, preparedness, team work, creativity, as I have grown more as a person to being more responsible and developed even more the interpersonal skills I had.
There is much is store for you when you arrive in Pittsburgh. Thursday evening will be full of some fun and games with a competitive edge. We will announce winners of the first ever NRHC Battle at our Friday event, the Talent Show. For Friday, we hope you will sign up in advance. But feel free to come on stage the night of the conference! Finally, our biggest event, Silver and Gold Masquerade Ball will be on Saturday evening. Please dress in your finest silver and gold attire, and bring a mask!
Reflecting on the past, going to my first conference, NRHC in Cambridge, MA, has been one of the most amazing experiences I have had so far in college. My goal and hope is for all who are coming to this conference to have an extraordinary experience just as I had.
Valerie J. Robles-Rios
Hello out there! This is Hilary De Silvia, Criminal Justice major, Honors student, Afrocentric fanatic and literature enthusiast. I truly hope you readers are enjoying every minute of your Honors experience. College can surely be a pain in the keister, but let’s not forget all the silver linings.
As honors students, I’m sure you can relate—all the work, classes, clubs can be overwhelming. Throw in the need to sleep, and forget about it. It seems impossible. But we are able to do it. It is this ability to go farther and push harder that makes us honors students. And I look forward to meeting you during NRHC 2017, where we can celebrate our successes, make new connections, and have fun.
Being given the opportunity to work on the Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference’s Student Events is rewarding in itself, as it has made me more eager to bring on the entertainment. I am happy to be working with all the students participating in the Art Show, and I hope I will see you at all the events on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. This has been an interesting process and I’ve learned so much. I cannot wait to see how my journey concludes in Pittsburgh.
Hilary De Silvia
Novemeber 14th, 2016
Why should I apply to the NRHC Conference?
Video credit by Kelly Tran, Point Park University
October 22nd, 2016
Northeast Student Awarded NCHC Student of the Year Honor
By Kathryn M. MacDonald, Professor, Monroe College
I’m sure many of our regional directors, staff, and students who were able to attend the 2016 NCHC Conference in Seattle are still riding the “idea high” of the conference! It is always a pleasure to be amongst likeminded people with wonderful energy and passion for Honors education.
My Seattle experience was amazing. My roundtable presentation with Helen Fallon of Point Park University on intercollegiate joint honors projects was fantastic and engaging. The poster I presented on some new honors courses at my institution was well-received. My students who presented their research via posters were on top of their game. And it was so much fun!
However, this conference was particularly special for me as the Honors Coordinator of the Monroe College Honors Program (located in Bronx and New Rochelle, NY) because one my students was named NCHC Student of Year (at a four-year institution)—Nathalie Waldschmidt. We had no idea that she would receive this recognition and actual tears of joy were cried when we found out that she received this honor. I am grateful to NCHC for recognizing Nathalie.
I wanted all of my northeast colleagues to know this news because Nathalie has served our region well—both as a Student Rep for NRHC 2016 and now as Conference Assistance for NRHC 2017.
Furthermore, I know that I would not be as productive in my mission in leading my honors program without Nathalie and students like her. I would like to share with you excerpts from my nomination letter:
I met Nathalie in January 2014, when she first joined the Honors Program. She was in her second semester of study, working toward her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. From the beginning, Nathalie was an exceptionally hard working student. She contributed eagerly to classroom discussions and demonstrated a superb work ethic. She is an international student from Germany, and her writing skills have always impressed me. Her comfort level in the classroom and amongst her peers is above average—she is a natural mentor and leader.
After taking her first Honors course, I encouraged Nathalie to run for our Honors Student Board. She agreed, and was elected to be the President. In this role, Nathalie really excelled. She demonstrated unparalleled leadership skills, compared to the students who served in this position prior. She implemented several new activities, such as a freshmen mentorship program, Trivia and Game Night, Tea Talks with professors, Movie Nights, and more. She also launched our program’s first Honors Olympics. All of these activities have breathed new life into the sense of community amongst students in our Honors Program.
Nathalie has also been actively engaged in making proposals to the Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC) conferences and NCHC conferences. She has successfully received accepted proposals at two regional conferences (2015 and 2016) and two national conferences (2015 and 2016). Her presentations have been exceptional, grounded in research and creative in concept. When travelling as a representative of our program, she is a role model to the other students. She carries herself in a mature, confident, and professional manner.
She took her leadership role to a new level in 2015, when she chose to run for the NRHC Executive Board as a Student Representative. She was elected, and brought new energy and ideas to the 2016 Cambridge conference. In addition to organizing the student events for all three evenings, she also launched an Honors Olympics prior to the conference, an Honors Parade and Slideshow during the conference, and stepped up to secure sponsors to help fund the conference. As a result of these initiatives, she was asked to return as Conference Chair Assistant for the 2017 Pittsburgh conference. This is an amazing feat, considering she is still a student!
I could continue to write about Nathalie (she has done so much more than this letter begins to describe), but I will draw this nomination letter to a close. She is the most deserving honors student of this award. She is active within her honors program every single day and has expanded her involvement in honors on the regional and national levels. She does plan to return to her home country of Germany one day, and she has told me that she plans to implement collegiate honors programs in Germany. If nothing else, this shows her dedication to the ideals of honors and making sure that gifted students have a community in which to share their talents.
Nathalie is not someone who likes being the center of attention, but I know she will use this honor to further her reach in leading our honors program. I am so, so proud of her.
I hope that all of you—directors, staff, and students—consider working toward this achievement. I truly believe that our region is bustling with talent, creativity, and potential. My honors program is small, just over 200 students, but we have been able to achieve so much at the regional and national levels. It is through teamwork, networking, and dedication that any of our institutions can receive this kind of recognition. Our efforts, along with the efforts of NCHC, can bring honors education to the forefront of higher education.
Congratulations, once again, Nathalie!
October 11th, 2016
The Honors Traveler
As I reflect on what was the most impactful aspect of my college career, I undoubtedly can say it was joining the honors program at The College of New Rochelle (CNR). Although I got a late start and joined in my sophomore year, I quickly caught up and hit the ground running.
The honors program gave me the challenge and academic rigor I yearned for. I often was pushed to think outside of the box and to explore views that often were different than my own. The honors program also pushed me outside of the classroom and even outside of the state. With every travel opportunity that was offered, I was enthusiastic and ready to go. Whether it was Niagara Falls, NY; Gettysburg, PA or Cambridge, MA, I always had my proposal submitted to attend the annual Northeast Regional Honors Council conferences!
My travel didn’t stop with conferences. On July 7th, 2014, The College of New Rochelle’s Honors Director, Dr. Amy Bass, sent me an email that changed my life. She asked me if I was interested in studying away for the Fall 2014 semester to attend the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies program in Mystic, CT. At first, I was quite unsure being that I have never been away from home for an extended period of time and was afraid of leaving my responsibilities both on and off of campus behind. Dr. Bass assured me that CNR and New Rochelle would still be there when I returned and will continue to operate in my absence.
In exact words, the email said, “You should do this for you. Truly. It’s one semester. But I guarantee you’ll never be the same.” Dr. Bass couldn’t be more right. Williams-Mystic was without a doubt the highlight of my college career and the best experience of my life. In this one semester, I had the chance to sail for 10 days in the Pacific Ocean, explore the bayous of Louisiana and the Californian coastline. I also had he chance to have a real college experience by moving away to Mystic, Connecticut and having a roommate for the first time.
As I reflect back on my college career, it is the memories and friends that I made through the honors program that I will forever remember. Honors has empowered me to step outside of my comfort zone and to always be prepared to take on opportunities that will help me grow personally and intellectually. If I were to give another honors student some advice, it would be to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. I mean who else can say that they have TRAVELED APPROXIMATELY 15,000 miles and have explored six U.S. States, The Gulf of Mexico, Canada, and sailed in the Pacific Ocean for free? Now that’s doing college right!
The College of New Rochelle
Communication Arts, Class of 2016
October 10th, 2016
The following video about the 2016 NRHC Conference in Cambridge, MA was submitted by Maria Capozzoli of The College of Saint Elizabeth. The College of Saint Elizabeth is always looking forward to the conference. It is a great place to network and share ideas with students from all over the northeast.
August 29, 2016
Have you ever wondered what other colleges do in their Honors Programs? How are their programs different from yours? What activities/classes do they offer and how do they manage to keep students involved?
That is the reason why we created this blog. We want to hear all your stories about YOUR Honors Program!
Some of the topics can include, but are not limited, to:
- Your favorite Honors moment
- Things that your Honors Program does well
- Issues that should get more attention in Honors
- Your proposals for NCHC/NRHC
- General overview over your program
- Honors activities
- Your favorite Honors class/professor
- Handling Honors and general college requirements at the same time
- Honors Trips
- Honors abroad
- Honors work that you like to share (poem, articles)
- Any topics that you would like to discuss with other students
This blog, published on the NRHC homepage, will serve as a platform for students in the Northeast to express their opinions and personal Honors moments, as well as to interact with other students and learn more about other programs in the region.
You can write about anything that includes Honors, even if you are just curious about other programs and you just want to post a question.
This blog will also be promoted on our social media channels – not only will NRHC attendees be able to read your work, you can also share it with your friends and your home institution.
We are looking for submissions that have 350+ words, and you are more than welcome to include photos/any other way of digital media.
Please reach out to Nathalie if you have any questions. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are looking forward to receiving your work!