Expanding Honors

Dec 12th, 2012 | By | Category: Features

BY: Joseph Guar­i­no ’12

Since 2005, Wes­ley College’s hon­ors pro­gram has been a sym­bol for out­stand­ing scholas­tic prowess and per­sis­tence, nur­tur­ing a group of stu­dents who excel amongst their peers in their aca­d­e­m­ic accom­plish­ments at Wes­ley. In sev­en years, enroll­ment has tripled in size. Incom­ing stu­dents must now be placed on a wait­ing list to join the pro­gram.

“With close to 75 stu­dents this fall, this growth has result­ed pri­mar­i­ly from increased efforts to com­mu­ni­cate with prospec­tive and cur­rent stu­dents about the hon­ors pro­gram and the oppor­tu­ni­ties it offers,” says Dr. Jef­frey Gib­son, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish and direc­tor of the hon­ors pro­gram. Arriv­ing fresh­men must have main­tained a 3.3 GPA in high school and must have earned a score of at least 1400 on their SATs. An essay or let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion also is required for admis­sion to the pro­gram.

Gib­son is pleased with the diver­si­ty among incom­ing hon­ors stu­dents. “We cur­rent­ly have stu­dents from almost every major on cam­pus, numer­ous stu­dent-ath­letes and sev­er­al stu­dents involved in stu­dent clubs, orga­ni­za­tions and Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion,” he says.

Incom­ing hon­ors stu­dents this year have a new oppor­tu­ni­ty for hous­ing. Roe Hall, one of the tra­di­tion­al halls on Wesley’s cam­pus, now includes a floor ded­i­cat­ed to hon­ors stu­dents. The ameni­ties in Roe include lob­bies on each floor reserved as study areas for hard work­ing hon­ors stu­dents.

Cather­ine Gross

Hon­ors hous­ing is not a new idea at Wes­ley, how­ev­er, as the Joseph S. Bellmey­er Hon­ors House has been ded­i­cat­ed exclu­sive­ly to return­ing stu­dents enrolled in the hon­ors pro­gram since 2005. The hon­ors house, which has room for 12 stu­dents, has eight res­i­dents liv­ing there this semes­ter. One of them is Cather­ine Gross, a sopho­more major­ing in bio­log­i­cal chem­istry.

“Liv­ing in the hon­ors house is real­ly con­ducive to study­ing, com­pared to when I lived in the dorms last year, where it was just real­ly loud and hard to get any­thing done inside of the dorm rooms,” Gross says. “In the house it’s qui­et, with only sev­en or eight of us liv­ing there, so it’s nice.”

Being a part of the hon­ors pro­gram at Wes­ley comes with a vari­ety of aca­d­e­m­ic advan­tages, includ­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend four sem­i­nars and par­tic­i­pate in two inde­pen­dent study choic­es. Stu­dents in the pro­gram also receive the same reg­is­tra­tion pri­or­i­ty as seniors over oth­er stu­dents when it comes time to sign up for next semester’s cours­es.

Zac Lebeau, an Eng­lish major in his sopho­more year, sees the pri­or­i­ty reg­is­tra­tion as a cru­cial ben­e­fit for the pro­gram. “As a sopho­more, the ear­ly pri­or­i­ty class sched­ul­ing has def­i­nite­ly helped me. I’m able to get into the class­es I need,” Lebeau says. “That’s prob­a­bly the biggest ben­e­fit of all for me since I’m only a sopho­more.”

Hon­ors stu­dents also ben­e­fit from small­er class­es, receiv­ing indi­vid­ual atten­tion from fac­ul­ty mem­bers who share the same dri­ve and ded­i­ca­tion as the stu­dents that they men­tor. This helps pro­mote each student’s per­son­al growth in acad­e­mia and per­pet­u­ates the hard work eth­ic for which the hon­ors pro­gram proud­ly stands.

Zach Lebeau

Due to increased par­tic­i­pa­tion in the hon­ors pro­gram, the num­ber of fac­ul­ty teach­ing hon­ors cours­es has tripled from four to 12, along with an increase in hon­ors cours­es from three to eight per semes­ter in order to accom­mo­date incom­ing hon­ors stu­dents. Erich Gille­spie, a senior math major, describes the faculty’s involve­ment as help­ful for the tran­si­tion to col­lege. “Being sur­round­ed by the fac­ul­ty of the hon­ors pro­gram makes it very easy, because you’re still young and that     tran­si­tion would’ve been a lot more dif­fi­cult if I didn’t have pro­fes­sors like Dr. Arm­strong or Dr. Urbanas there for me,” Gille­spie says.

Erich Gille­spie

With each semes­ter that hon­ors stu­dents are active in the hon­ors pro­gram they are eli­gi­ble to receive mer­it-based schol­ar­ships, such as the Pres­i­den­tial Schol­ar­ship, which is award­ed to stu­dents who dis­play a tena­cious per­for­mance in their scholas­tic career.

Spe­cial school trips and events are offered exclu­sive­ly to stu­dents enrolled in the pro­gram as oppor­tu­ni­ties to broad­en hori­zons and pro­vide the stu­dents with expe­ri­ences that they will car­ry with them through­out their life­time. Gross went to Ellis Island to see the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty, and Gille­spie vis­it­ed the reli­gious com­mune Onei­da in upstate New York. Anoth­er trip to Onei­da is planned this Octo­ber, with Gross and Lebeau plan­ning to attend.


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