As you will read, we have been quite busy this year. As we are always in the process of improvement and growth, we have developed new programs and reinvigorated one that has been long in moratorium.
As of February, we once again welcome alumni who wish to serve as mentors for our current Honors Scholars to complete our online form. Alumni mentors can serve an important role in lives of our students by sharing their experiences, helping them make important connections within the field, and being a resource for advice, support, and information.
We have started an Alumni Speakers Series, expanded the number of Honors study abroad trips we offer, and created new partnerships within the state that will have vast benefits for the community and University.
If you would like information about getting involved in any of our programs, visit our website at honors.wvu.edu.
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, bookstore owners, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas (even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular).
This year marked the 30th annual Banned Books Week by the American Library Association (ALA) and was the third year that Banned Books Week was observed by the Honors College. Events were held for the duration of Banned Books Week (September 30th to October 6th) to raise awareness. A banned books trivia game was facilitated via the Honors College Facebook page, movies inspired by banned books were shown in Honors Hall every evening, and select faculty and invited guests were scheduled to perform banned book read-ins across campus. Additionally, a tent was set up in the Free Speech Circle where students read portions of banned books through a megaphone, announced our daily events, and shared the significance of Banned Books Week with everyone who passed by or stopped by for a discussion.
West Virginia House of Delegates representative Barbara Fleischauer opened the week with a reading from the banned book, "The Grapes of Wrath." Following her reading, she held a discussion with the audience about the themes in the book and why the book was banned.
Leah Casto, a first year Honors College member, said she appreciated the opportunities provided by Banned Books Week. She added that the banned book summer reading assignment was interesting and helped her to gain interest in the events of the week.
Honors College Academic and Community Ambassador Amanda Vane said, "I enjoyed hearing from the various readers and having the opportunity to promote this great event. Next year, we hope to continue these activities and to get more of the WVU community involved."
According to Vane, the WVU Libraries and the English Department partnered with the Honors College this year, and multiple businesses were involved by providing prizes for the daily trivia game.
"We would like to see everyone promoting Banned Books Week," Vane said. "The freedom to read is something we should all protect."
Banned books will once again be assigned for the 2013 Honors College summer reading. This summer, students can select from The Perks of Being of Wallflower, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Handmaid's Tale, and A Clockwork Orange.
More than a few members of the Honors College are familiar with the hairy-footed race of hobbits, their surprising propensity for epic adventures, and their obsession with additional meals like elevenses and second breakfast (more bacon? Yes, please!)
That's why we're expecting a big turnout for the events of our Tolkien festival this spring. Last fall marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved fantasy novel, The Hobbit, and this spring we're celebrating with a handful of events that are tastier than a stack of seed cakes.
At the center of our events is the April 11 visit of Dr. Corey Olsen, Assistant Professor of English at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Dr. Olsen hosts the popular podcast, The Tolkien Professor, developed from his teaching website of the same name. Co-sponsored with the Department of English, Dr. Olsen's talk will take a thoughtful look at the evolution of some of Tolkien's poetry across the Lord of the Rings books.
Inspired by Dr. Olsen's visit, Honors Book Club has chosen to read Tolkien's The Hobbit alongside Dr. Olsen's Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. After meeting over the course of the semester to discuss the novel's literary features, its ethical propositions, and its enduring popularity, Book Club will celebrate the end of the semester with a visit from Dr. Patrick Conner, former chair of the Department of English and Director of the WVU Press, who will talk to the group about Tolkien's medieval influences.
Finally, on Saturday April 13, Honors Hall will hold an afternoon Hobbit Tea, complete with recipes straight out of Middle Earth. We will begin with second breakfast at noon, and after a bit of lively conversation (and a costume contest!), will have tea and cakes before watching the 1977 animated classic The Hobbit.
This spring and summer, the Honors College is involved in two very different faculty-led programs abroad. Over Spring Break, Dr. Ryan Claycomb is leading a theatre-themed trip to London in conjunction with his drama class. In addition to spending a week in one of the most globally diverse and culturally rich cities in the world, students will see five different performances of plays as varied as William Shakespeare's Hamlet to a play by Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter to a performance that is staged throughout a former Tudor mansion. Along the way, students will be able to visit such venues as The Tower of London, the British Museum, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and his birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.
"This is my favorite way to teach," says Dr. Claycomb, "where the page comes to life on the best stages in the world, and the education happens organically in an environment where there is something amazing and new to learn around every corner."
Meanwhile this summer, the immersive learning experience will take a decidedly less urban form, as Honors pre-med students will travel to Santarém, Brazil as part of an amazing clinical global service-learning program. Organized by Amizade, WVU's global service learning partner, and Amizade's Brazilian community partner, Fundação Esperança, this clinical program offers a transformational experience to the seven students traveling in this inaugural trip.
After spending time reading and discussing the aims of global service learning in the context of Brazil and other global public health contexts, students will board a boat with doctors and Brazilian medical students to travel up the Trombetas River, a tributary of the Amazon. Along the way, the medical boat will stop at isolated Quilombo communities, established in the nineteenth century by escaped slave populations and subsisting still. Students interested in pursuing medical school will be involved in a service opportunity in a clinical setting that will offer them valuable hands-on experience that also benefits the communities they visit in a program that is culturally sustainable beyond our contact.
Led by Exercise Physiology faculty Beth Nardella, the Santarém medical boat program promises to combine intellectual rigor with an important and rewarding service project. This year's students were so eager to take the trip that it filled in the first week!
The Honors College Murder Mystery Dinner Theater Club took a walk on the eerie side when they presented Polter-Heist, an audience participation murder mystery by Tony Schwartz and Marylou Ambrose.
The mystery took place at The Mouldering Pines Inn, where the Bogeyman Outreach Organization (BOO), a support group for ghosts, held its annual convention. As BOO members, participants observed a séance, met the Inn's ghoul-in-residence, and learned dark secrets about every cast member. Besides Madam Zelda and the Professor, audience members met Phyllis and Jim Lodge, the Inn's squabbling owners, Dana Skullery and Fox Smolder, from BOO's Washington, D.C., chapter, and Janet from Another Planet, a DJ with a past. Someone was ruthlessly murdered and the audience members had to solve the crime. Prizes were awarded to the first persons to correctly guess both the murderer and the motive.
Participants got the chance to mingle with the cast members to ask questions and decipher dropped hints. Then audience members enjoyed a Halloween-themed hors d'oeuvers and dessert buffet.
"It was so much fun! I loved the interaction of finding clues and playing audience games," said first year Honors College member Savanah Alberts.
Stephen Scott, another first-year member, said, "I've never been to a MMDT before until this one. After the one sponsored by HSA, I want to attend more because they are so fun!"
According to the show's director, Honors College Ambassador Amanda Vane, another murder mystery dinner theater is already being planned.
"This was a great production. Everyone had a lot of fun — the cast, crew and audience! I can't wait for our next show," said Vane.
If you're interested in attending or being involved in the next Honors College Murder Mystery Dinner Theater Club performance, Eat, Drink and Be Murdered, contact Amanda Vane at Amanda.Vane@mail.wvu.edu.
The Honors College has started an Alumni Speakers Series Program to bring alumni back to the Honors College to share their stories, experience, and advice with current students. The program provides current Honors College scholars with the opportunity to listen as alumni talk about their transition from the University into government, industry, education, and other careers. Students are encouraged to asked questions and connect with our alumni.
During the fall 2012 semester, the Honors College hosted "Med School Reality Versus Grey's Anatomy Drama — What Is It Really Like?" Ross Lawson, a first year student at West Virginia University School of Medicine, Nicole Shockcor, a second year student at West Virginia University School of Medicine, Kacie Kidd, a third year student at West Virginia University School of Medicine, Patrick Bonasso, a fourth year student at West Virginia University School of Medicine, and Dr. Allison Lastinger, a second year resident at West Virginia University School of Medicine served on the alumni panel. The five former Honors College scholars shared their experiences, talked about medical school realities, discussed the admission process, and answered students' questions for two hours.
According to Kidd, "I remember feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of applying to medical school when I was an undergraduate student and I questioned my own ability to be both accepted and to do well. I hope that I helped to ease these concerns for the current generation of WVU Honors undergrads."
As a third year medical school student, Kidd is currently on rotation so she can determine which field of medicine she wishes to pursue. She is caring for patients under the supervision of resident and attending physicians and is excited that her final year is near. She cannot wait to be a doctor.
"I sincerely hope that we helped to inspire and encourage the Honors students to pursue amazing careers in medicine," Kidd said.
This semester, the Honors College presented "Life With a Pharm.D.: Careers One Can Pursue After Pharmacy School." Dr. Arthur Jacknowitz, a retired professor and chairperson of the clinical pharmacy department at WVU, and an academic advisor for more than 250 Honors students, organized the alumni panel which included: Ashlee McMillan and Lena Maynor, clinical assistant professors in the School of Pharmacy, Kent Hunter of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Lindsay Kalata of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Abigail Thornton, a third year Pharm.D. student, and Shannon Kerns and Jordan McPherson, fourth year Pharm.D. candidates. The current students and professionals in the field discussed pharmacy school, the PCAT exam, admission to pharmacy school, and other areas of interest expressed by students in the audience.
Constance Mitchell, a first year Honors College member and pre-pharmacy major, attended the panel presentation and said, "The panel was very beneficial. The speakers showed the number of ways students can go with a degree in pharmacy."
Mitchell liked the fact that all the panel members presented different perspectives. "On the panel, there was almost an even mix of students currently in pharmacy school and people who were employed with a pharmacy degree. The students spoke of what fields they want to go into when they graduate and a little of pharmacy school. Graduates spoke of their jobs currently. My favorite part was the question and answer portion. Students attending the panel got a chance to know what life after school will entail," said Mitchell.
If you are an alumnus/a who would like to join our speaker's series, please complete the online form.
The Honors College has begun an Alumni Mentor Program designed to pair a current Honors Scholar with an Honors College alumnus/a in a one-year professional, mentoring relationship. Honors Scholars will benefit from having a mentor who relates to their experiences, shares knowledge, and gives advice.
Alumni mentors are asked to provide support, serve as a resource, assist the Honors Scholar in applying classroom learning (theory) to career/professional situations (practice), and to contact the Honors Scholar regularly.
To participate in our program, please complete the online form.
"During the American Revolution, Boston's citizens sought independence from arbitrary authority while preserving interdependence and community. Reflecting similar values, the honors revolution has challenged the structure of undergraduate education. Honors faculty foster independent thought, motivation, and scholarship in students while encouraging collaboration within a community of scholars. Thousands of honors faculty, students, and administrators gathered in Boston for five days to showcase honors education, share ideas and re-exam practices, and extend the challenge of the honors revolution in education."
In November of 2012, Dr. Keith Garbutt, Dr. Ryan Claycomb, and Dr. Marie Leichliter took seven Honors College scholars to Boston for the annual National Collegiate Honors Council Conference. The students had the opportunity to attend sessions, participate in the idea exchange, attend an NCHC business meeting, view student posters and talk with participants from Honors Colleges from around the globe. Leichliter and the students also had the opportunity to walk The Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile, brick-lined path that lead them to 16 historically significant sites around Boston. They visited the Boston Common, King's Chapel, the Old South Meeting House, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere's house, Old North Church, and many other noteworthy sites both on and off the trail. This wonderful adventure in Boston was part of their City As Text program experience.
According to Zak Balasko, a senior international studies major, "NCHC was a blast. We had the opportunity to meet Honors students from all over while exploring the surroundings of one of the country's most historic cities. The chance to compare our Honors College to others was enlightening, and we all came back full of ideas to expand the Honors offerings here at WVU."
"NCHC was an incredible experience!" said senior history major Kirsten Lilly. "Boston was so full of life and being able to explore this historic city with like-minded individuals was a real treat! I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to meet other Honors students and faculty from around the country and to share ideas to better Honors programs in general. I had no idea that there was such an honors community until attending NCHC!"
Two Honors College faculty members presented during NCHC and two students were also conference presenters. Garbutt served on a panel discussion, Honors Retention and Graduation: Rates, Comparisons and Using the Data Effectively, where he shared the data he has collected and best practices for using this information. Leichliter presented City as Text™: Morgantown Experience — A Summer Program Ventures outside the Classroom to Teach and Help Students Transition into Life for individuals interested in learning about turning a semester course into a three-week orientation experience for incoming students. Julia Bilovol, a senior biology major, presented Challenging the Structures of Residential Education, and Amanda Vane, a junior forensic science major, presented Honors College Tutoring Program: An Innovative Peer-Led Model.
Additional information about the 2013 NCHC Conference is available on the NCHC website.
Join us as we commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War that affected our entire nation: rich and poor, free and slave, and people of every race and culture who inhabited this country.
According to JoAnn Peterson, a History Alive! actor who portrays Mary Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln's story mirrors the pain and loss suffered by many Americans as a result of the Civil War. A devoted supporter of her husband's political aspirations, she encouraged him in his career. As the First Lady during the war, her southern roots created doubt about her loyalty to the Union, and she was also viewed as a traitor to the Confederate cause. During her time in the White House, she endured the death of three of her sons and saw her husband murdered. Later in her life, her surviving son committed her to an insane asylum.
On April 25th, at 6:30 p.m. JoAnn Peterson will present Mary Lincoln in the Multipurpose Room of Honors Hall. Mary Lincoln will share her stories to take the audience back in time, and will then answer questions posed by the audience.
The Honors College of West Virginia University will sponsor Peterson's performance. The WV Humanities Council sponsors The History Alive! Program with additional financial assistance from the Office of the Secretary, West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts. The West Virginia Humanities Council is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational programs in the humanities for all West Virginians. For over thirty years, the Council has been providing educational programs in the humanities across the state. For more information about The History Alive! Program or The WV Humanities Council, call The West Virginia Humanities Council at 304.346.8500 or visit their website.
Cate Johnson recently joined the ASPIRE Office as the new Program Coordinator. She graduated in December 2012 from WVU with her MA in Geography and graduate certificates in both Women and Gender Studies and Nonprofit Management. She completed her BS at Shepherd University in Political Science. Cate's research interests include women's empowerment and grassroots international development. She has two teen daughters from Timor-Leste and enjoys participating in community life in Morgantown.
Ahnya Redman joined the Honors College in March of 2013 as the Pre-Health Coordinator in the ASPIRE Office. Dr. Redman came to us from the Biology Department, where she spent seven years teaching both introductory and advanced courses to Honors and non-Honors students alike. Dr. Redman is thrilled to be part of the Honors College, and she is looking forward to doing what she loves most: helping students tackle the challenges that stand between them and their dreams. Please feel free to stop by her office with questions about health-related careers or programs, or anything else that is on your mind.
On Saturday January 26, sixteen high achieving sophomores at WVU braved a snowstorm to attend the second annual ASPIRE Academy. The Academy is a daylong workshop hosted by the ASPIRE Office, which assists students who are applying for nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships as well as students who are applying for graduate or professional school. ASPIRE Director Amy Cyphert and Program Coordinator Cate Johnson guided the students through a wide range of nationally competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities, including tips on applying for the Truman, Goldwater, and Fulbright scholarships. Keynote speaker Dr. Lisa DiBartolomeo shared her experience in the United Kingdom as a Marshall Scholar and encouraged students to explore the possibility of attending graduate school abroad. Other guest speakers covered the important components of a competitive application for most national scholarships: service, global engagement, undergraduate research, and leadership for social change. One student said in his or her evaluation, "There was so much helpful information that I had never heard, I hadn't really considered applying for theses scholarships until today." The ASPIRE Academy participants came from a wide variety of majors. Both honors and non-honors students were invited to apply. The ASPIRE Office hopes to continue offering the program to high achieving sophomores each year.
Alums Scott Cushing and Cody White and Professor Bradley Wilson address the ASPIRE Academy audience.
In her award essay, Grant wrote that it is hard to measure one's accomplishments in light of King's, but she still strives to create the same kind of liberty and human family that he worked to create. She learned as she began tutoring fellow students as a Peer Educator that education is not a level playing field.
"Many people don't always have a strong academic background," Grant said. "This can put them at a disadvantage at the university level because these students can be left behind. I strive to be there to help people like this."
As Grant accepted her award, she said, "We can't all lead a social movement, but we can all make a difference in someone's life."
Through tutoring, interning at the Charles Town City Hall and raising funds for Unite for Sight, which aids those with preventable blindness, Grant is working to achieve "integration among all people" in a spirit of love, she said.
Information obtained from the WVU Today article.