Honors Convocation: Celebrating Forty Years of Academic Success
Honors Convocation and Eta Sigma Alpha Induction took place on September 10 at 7 p.m. in the Arts and Sciences Auditorium. The room was filled with the bright and anxious faces of the new freshmen class, all ready to take on the challenges that the next four years may bring. Honors faculty was present in their academic regalia, as well as families of the new Honors inductees, current Honors members, and the Eta Sigma Alpha board.
The convocation began with the procession of the faculty and staff, followed by the Eta Sigma Alpha board. Background music for the procession was provided by the Georgia College Brass Ensemble.
Dr. Steven Elliott-Gower, Director of the Honors Program, began the event with a huge welcome. He recognized the freshmen’s prior achievements as well as the upcoming opportunities that awaited them at Georgia College.
Dr. Sandra Jordan, Georgia College’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, followed Dr. Elliott-Gower with a multitude of inspiring remarks. She described college as beginning a journey and congratulated the inductees on how hard they have already worked to get there. Dr. Jordan then gave the freshmen three pieces of advice; first, she urged them to develop learning into a habit they will love. She reminded the inductees how small actions and small steps eventually add up to a bigger picture. She also acknowledged that success doesn’t come easily, but that it is the “center of a full and meaningful life.” Secondly, Dr. Jordan advised the freshmen to be deliberate about linking what they are taught to new situations – to take advantage of everything they learn and apply it to life outside the classroom. Lastly, Dr. Jordan reminded them to always harbor a desire to serve others. She states that being a part of something that is greater than themselves is what will set them on the path to becoming an “effective, enlightened global citizen.” Overall, Dr. Jordan emphasized the Honors Program’s values that incorporated Georgia College’s motto: “Connecting What Matters.”
Olivia Ollinger, Eta Sigma Alpha’s treasurer, then introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Tina Yarborough, Professor of Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies. Olivia recalled her own personal classroom experiences with Dr. Yarborough as she reflected that, “[Dr. Yarborough] made us think and made us question what we were thinking.”
Dr. Yarborough enthusiastically addressed the inductees with words of encouragement. She advocated to constantly challenge the mind, whether it was by attending dinner seminars, studying in a foreign country, or living in a residential-learning community. She said that every freshman present possessed individual gifts to bring to the Georgia College family that will later influence not only the campus, but the world.
Dr. Yarborough then expressed her lifelong appreciation of kitsch, which has resulted in a collection that now includes many items bearing the words “Live, Love, and Laugh” in various order. She said that these words have shaped many of her core beliefs throughout her teaching career, and she thought they could also be applied to the students’ lives at Georgia College. As Dr. Yarborough explained the meaning of each word, a student from the Eta Sigma Alpha board rose and held a sign with the appropriate word depicted.
LIVE. Follow your passions and do “what moves your soul.” Make it a habit of your mind to do your heart’s work. Live a life of integrity and originality. Take responsible risks and spark a revolution.
LOVE. Be compassionate and love to learn. Enflame the desire to help others and “care enough to serve selflessly.”
LAUGH. Remember to engage your humor and do whatever makes you happy. Mistakes are bound to happen, but those are often the best opportunities in life.
To these, Dr. Yarborough added “Learn.”
LEARN. Learn all you can and share what you know. Create a community and continue to grow and expand. Question everything and step into the unknown, because “learning is magic.”
Towards the end of the ceremony, each of the freshmen was recognized and presented with an Eta Sigma Alpha certificate of membership.
Dr. Elliott-Gower closed the ceremony with some final motivational words. He reminded the freshmen that their class was not alone in any of their upcoming endeavors – he encouraged the students to engage the faculty and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Honors Program as a “powerful springboard” into the next phase of their academic and professional careers. Dr. Elliott-Gower also advised the students to “feed their academic hunger” but to stay true to themselves. He concluded with the phrase, “Carpe Diem.”
As the ceremony ended, the Eta Sigma Alpha board led the faculty out of the procession with the signs “Live, Love, Laugh, Learn” held high.
Honors RLC: A Global Consciousness
This semester marked the second year of the Honors RLC. An Honors Residential Learning Community (RLC) is best defined as a group of students who come together on the basis of a shared ideal. Using global citizenship as an important focal point, the group is able to challenge their value systems and understand the life-long benefits of becoming part of a community setting.
The Honors RLC has continued its expansion throughout the Georgia College community. Although based out of Bell Hall, all Honors students are invited to attend.
This semester, the Honors RLC offered a number of events hosted by various professors on the Georgia College campus. Each faculty member researched a topic, wrote out a discussion, made handouts, and set aside time to chat with the students about the selected issue. The Honors RLC talks offered for the fall 2010 semester were as follows:
“Globalization, Resource Extraction, and Poverty” by Dr. Doug Oetter
“BRIC Economies” by Dr. Amit Poddar
“Genetic Engineering: Imperialism goes Hi-Tech!” by Dr. Melanie DeVore
“Nature of Insurgency” by Dr. Chuck Fahrer
Hayley Lambert (freshman) attended several of the talks throughout the semester. Her favorite was “BRIC Economies” – she found it to be very informative and beneficial to her future.
“If you’re a global citizen, you can look at problems more efficiently and be able to realize what kind of effect they’ll have on everyone involved,” Lambert said.
A student who understands the importance of a global community can carry these benefits into future employment – a leader who understands and wishes to engage in other communities will not be confined to just the American market.
“Jobs and markets are global now,” Dr. Poddar said. “To survive and prosper, students have to learn to be responsible global citizens.”
Students participating in the Honors RLC have laid the foundation to their own global community and are working towards becoming part of the generation that redefines globalization.
“The more you know about the world, the more varied kinds of ideas you can come up with, and being a citizen of the world is one way to learn more about it,” Lambert said.
New Service Requirement for Honors Underclassmen
Contributing Writer: Ala Bishop
A new service hour requirement has been added to the list of responsibilities for freshmen and sophomores in the Honors Program at Georgia College. Program Director, Dr. Steven Elliott-Gower, and the Honors Student Council made the decision to implement the change this year and may later choose to increase the requirement from its current fifteen hour per year minimum.
Using the Give Center as the hub for hourly records, students will complete at least fifteen hours of community service per year as underclassmen. In the event that a student neglects to fulfill the requirement, he or she will be placed on probation from the program and given another semester’s chance to perform the required service.
Dr. Elliott-Gower, who has headed the program since 2008, has been considering the change since he took the position as program director. “Honors students get a lot of benefits from being in the honors program,” Dr. Elliott-Gower said, “so I feel very strongly that they should be giving something back to the campus and to the community.”
Students in the program experience smaller class sizes, exclusive book discussions, colloquiums, and dinner seminars, recognition at graduation, accommodation in Bell Hall (the only on-campus dormitory), and membership in the social fraternity, Eta Sigma Alpha. In addition to increasing the program’s presence in the community and encouraging positive values in students, Dr. Elliott-Gower hopes that the service requirement will also demonstrate that honors students are not elitist.
Brandon Williams, official Honors fraternity president, doesn’t believe the additional requirement will be too much for already busy honors students to handle. “The service requirement will not overload students.” Williams said, “The opportunities will definitely be fun events that will provide a better sense of community between honors freshmen and sophomores.”
Dr. Elliott-Gower and the Honors Student Council have a much more specific vision for the future of the service requirement. He states, “I would like in the longer term for honors students to identify a specific charity or organization…that they sort of take ownership of.”
In addition to this narrowed focus, the number of required hours is expected to rise after this first trial semester. “I think we’re starting so small that it really can’t go wrong,” Dr. Elliott-Gower explained, “I don’t want to abandon it. If anything, I want to expand.”
Williams expressed enthusiasm for the future of the new service requirement. “I just think it’s a win-win situation for both honors students and the community. They’ll get our services, and we’ll get the satisfaction of knowing we helped out the community of Milledgeville.”
Honors Student Council
The Honors Student Council is an organization that gives peer-selected individuals an opportunity to express their ideas and discuss any necessary changes regarding the program. The council meets every six weeks or so with Dr. Elliott-Gower in the Honors Student Lounge in Terrell Hall – during this time, members share their thoughts and suggestions on how to improve the Honors Program from a student perspective. These meetings also give students a designated time to bring any areas of concern directly to the attention of the director.
The organization was created by Dr. Elliott-Gower in order to gain more student feedback. The council seeks out their peers’ opinions and presents them to Dr. Elliott-Gower. He, in turn, uses the council as a vehicle to float proposed changes to the program. One such issue that came up this semester was the possibility of an added capstone requirement. Dr. Elliott-Gower and two seniors, Meredith Carpenter and Melanie Wooten, are exploring the idea of an e-portfolio capstone for further consideration by the Honors Student Council in spring 2011.
“I wanted to get involved because I thought it would be a good learning experience and because it was an opportunity to be in a position to make suggestions about what needed to be changed in the Honors Program,” Alyssa Giglia, sophomore council member, said. “I really appreciated that Dr. Elliott-Gower wanted feedback and discussion from the students in the Honors Program.”
Purely an open-forum, the Honors Student Council is comprised of leaders who aren’t afraid to speak their mind. Already, the council has made positive changes to the Honors Program, such as an underclassmen community service requirement. The Honors Student Council, along with Dr. Elliott-Gower, implemented a 15-hour/year service requirement for freshmen and sophomores.
Changes suggested by the Honors Student Council are a vital part of the expansion of the Honors Program. The Honors Student Council teaches students effective teamwork, important leadership skills, and how to make a difference within the honors community.
“It’s a chance for other Honors students to get their voices and opinions heard. We want to make the Honors Program the best it can be by getting as much feedback and facilitative critiques as possible,” Giglia said.
Undergraduate Research: Transcending Classroom Knowledge
Participating in a hands-on learning experience (such as undergraduate research) allows for students to expand their intellectual pursuit above and beyond the walls of the classroom. It instills responsibility and independence, as well as assists students in their quest more knowledge within their field. The Honors program encourages its members to participate in these opportunities to ensure a well-rounded academic career. Here, we profiled two Honors students’ observations.
Major: Biology/ Pre-Med
Program: Research for Undergraduates (REU) at Strong Children’s Research Center, University of Rochester Medical School
This past summer I received an amazing opportunity to participate in medical research at the University of Rochester in New York. With much encouragement from one of my professors, I applied to several NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduate programs, as well as to the Strong Children’s Research Center Summer Scholars Program at the University of Rochester. Needless to say, I believe applying to these programs was one of the best things I have done as an undergraduate.
While in Rochester, I worked forty hours a week under the guidance of a research mentor in the Department of Pediatrics. My mentor was a clinician and a researcher, and I was very lucky to be able to spend time in the office as well as in the clinical setting. My main project was to explore the patient-centered medical home, an up-and-coming model that aims to decrease costs, improve quality of care, and increase physician satisfaction. I was specifically looking to see what role community health centers are playing in testing the medical home model.
Another project I worked on was a survey on how family structure affects adolescents’ perceptions of food and physical activity. On this project, I teamed up with a local health systems agency whose primary goal is to raise awareness and promote change for the growing epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity. Did you know that Georgia is nationally ranked third in highest rates of childhood overweight and obesity?
Not only was I in the office working extensively with PubMed, but I was also able to spend time in the clinic with my mentor. She spent half of her time working in the office researching, and he rest of it at a community health center in downtown Rochester. I was able to shadow her once a week and experienced many new situations. She encouraged me to ask questions, and I left the summer excited to begin my own journey into the medical field.
All in all, this last summer was hands-down one of the greatest times of my life. I met amazing people from all across the country, and I can't wait to begin my career in medicine.
Program: Editor of Georgia College’s The Corinthian
I am the current editor of The Corinthian, the journal of student research at Georgia College. The Corinthian provides wonderful opportunities for students and faculty members of all academic fields. Students have an opportunity to have their research published, while faculty are able to sponsor student work and serve as reviewers on the faculty review board.
As editor of the student research journal, I am responsible for soliciting student submissions, developing the faculty review board, supervising the review and acceptance process, and corresponding with students and faculty members. This year The Corinthian staff consists of myself, The Corinthian sponsor John Bowen, and copy editors Keli Ross and Sophie Dunne. The Corinthian staff is currently compiling the twelfth volume, which will be released in the spring of 2011.
Study Abroad: The Path to Globalization
International education (such as study abroad) is an important domain in the Honors Program. Studying abroad allows for a life-changing experience that benefits students personally, academically, as well as professionally. It also serves as a unique way to dramatically expand students’ concepts of globalization. Here, we profiled two Honors students’ foreign adventures.
Major: Political Science
Study Abroad Program: St. Petersburg, Russia, summer 2010
Classes: Russian Language and Russia: from Gorbachov to Medvedev, 6 credits total.
The beautiful city of St. Petersburg is home to breathtaking scenery, national treasures, and historical landmarks. Spending four weeks there was an unprecedented adventure for junior Mason Girard. Although speaking little Russian, Mason was able to navigate his way and experience all the wonders St. Petersburg had to offer. “I didn’t want to go where people normally travel to, I wanted to pick somewhere obscure,” Girard said.
Girard went on many field trips within the city as well as venture outside of it, such as spending a weekend in Moscow. During his free time, Girard found himself exploring. He traveled to the outskirts of St. Petersburg and immersed himself in the Russian culture. “We found so much fun in the flea markets,” said Girard. “I really enjoyed bartering with the locals.”
Girard found his classes taught by the Russian professors to be fascinating. “One day our two and half hour class lasted for almost six hours because of all the stories,” Girard said. “Learning history from someone who was a part of history is far better than any textbook.” Girard was also able to watch the World Cup with the locals, which he says is his fondest memory from the trip.
“Being forced into a new culture is really hard; everything you do is a challenge and a task,” said Girard. Living in a city that spoke very little English wasn’t easy, but Girard claims it’s what made it that much more rewarding. His semester abroad enabled him to mature both as a student and as an individual.
Dinner-Seminars and Book Discussions: A Hunger for Knowledge
The Honors Program had a great start to the fall 2010 semester by offering a wide variety of book discussions and dinner-seminars. These events have proven to be beneficial for not only the students, but for the host professors as well, which is why they have continued to be a prominent component to the Honors Program curriculum.
Individuals participating in the book discussion or dinner seminar meet with the host professor in a quiet, comfortable setting (frequently at a faculty’s home), which is usually accompanied by a delicious meal. The professor aids the discussion by integrating their own background knowledge, which often stems from their practicing discipline. On average, discussions consist of about five to ten students, which helps facilitate a more intimate environment.
This semester, honors students had the privilege of having Georgia College’s President, Dorothy Leland, lead a book discussion on Hikaru Okuizumi's The Stones Cry Out. Students were thrilled to participate in such an opportunity.
“I think the most important thing I learned was how awesome Dr. Leland is. I know she was a wonderful woman, but she’s even more welcoming and open once you get to know her,” junior Jessica Friday said. “She had a lot of great things to say, and led us in all sorts of directions.”
Other equally wonderful book discussions this semester were as follows:
Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex with Dr. Ryan Brown
Hikaru Okuizumi's The Stones Cry Out with President Dorothy Leland
Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five with Dr. Caitlin Powell
Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders with Amy Sumpter
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale with Dr. Rob Viau
Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis with Dr. Henry Wang
Additional to book discussions, dinner seminars provide honors students the chance to converse with professors outside the classroom. The faculty member selects a topic of interest and the students volunteer for the subjects they would like to learn more about.
The dinner seminars from the fall 2010 semester included the following:
"Cultural Patrimony: They're My Marbles!" with Dr. Elissa Auerbach
"Rethinking the Food System” with Dr. Julia Metzker
"Are Voters Rational?" with Dr. Ben Scafidi
Freshman Jim McPhail attended Dr. Metzker’s discussion on “Rethinking the Food System.” McPhail (among others) traveled to Dr. Metzker’s home where they were given a tour of her garden and viewed the documentary “Fresh.” Following the film, the group discussed potential alternatives to the current food system. A home-cooked meal was also provided by Dr. Metzker.
“I learned a lot about eating organic foods, and the malicious effects of the food we purchase at the grocery store. When I left, I wanted to change the food I ate,” McPhail said.
Both book discussions and dinner seminars allow students to have intelligent discussions with Georgia College faculty, as well as a means of networking with professors and students alike they may otherwise not have had the chance to meet.
Michelle Clason, T.J. Cornay, Jason Edmondson, and Chelsea Butler were selected as Student Ambassadors for the 2010-11 year.
Molly Holmes and Erin Schubach were inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa honors society. Founded in 1914, ODK was the first college national honor society to recognize and honor outstanding leadership and service.
Christopher Venable starred in “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” as Van. The play was a parody on the Peanuts Comic Strip.
Caroline Clements was elected freshman representative of Georgia College’s Student Government Association. As a SGA senator, Caroline serves as a liaison between the students and the SGA Executive Board.
Scott Zhang created an iPhone application entitled “Shop Local Milledgeville” during his summer internship as an app developer at Digital Bridges. The project was published on the Apple app store in early August and is a useful tour guide for travelers, as well as a good reference for locals. You can obtain the app by searching for it on any Apple app store.
Lauren Buchheit was elected President of Delta Sigma Pi for the 2010-11 year. Founded in 1907, Delta Sigma Pi is one of the largest co-ed professional business fraternities.
Honors and Leadership
The Georgia College Education Mentorship (GEM) program offers students a unique experience to gain insight into the professional business world. Each year 20 to 25 students are accepted into the program where they are matched with members of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The mentors, who are often senior electives, range in a variety of businesses from healthcare to politics. Students are then given the opportunity to shadow their influential mentor and learn necessary skills in becoming an effective leader.
Students meet with their mentors two to three times a semester at their mentor’s place of employment, which can be anywhere in Georgia (though often in Macon or Atlanta). Additionally, students participate in a variety of book discussions, leadership seminars, and other programs in Milledgeville throughout the year. Through the shadowing visits and events, students learn how to be a better leader, how to interact in the workforce, and how to be successful in a professional setting.
John Bowen, coordinator of leadership programs, believes that self-development is a direct result from leadership. Becoming a part of the program allows students to learn to how to effectively work with others and become academically successful. Those who commit to the program learn how to empower others as well as themselves. Bowen notes that the GEM program helps students “discover what they are passionate about and where their talents lie.” The program also opens the doorway to prepare the next generation of leaders on our campus.
Of the twenty-three members of the GEM program for the 2010-11 academic year, nine students are also a part of the Georgia College Honors Program. These students include junior Julia Borland, senior Tim Bosch, junior Lauren Buchheit, senior Meredith Carpenter, senior Casey Cone, junior Olivia Ollinger, senior Erin Schubach, junior Anna Wells, and senior Melanie Wooten.
Meredith Carpenter was paired with Alex Gregory, the President and CEO of YKK Corporation. She recently attended an Environmental Compliance Team Meeting at the YKK office. Carpenter was able to witness the decision-making a corporation faces, which she considers to be “an invaluable experience.”
“The program gives students a chance to be a part of the business world that many of us will face after college. We get to be a fly on the wall with first-hand experiences. The GEM program also teaches students how to act and respond in professional situations and how to interact with successful and important business people. Even more than that though, this program teaches each of us so much about everything from leadership to business practices to learning from the advice of a mentor whom we would not have the chance to be in communication with if not for the GEM program,” Carpenter said.
Although the GEM program is usually focused on upperclassmen, Georgia College also offers the Leadership Certificate Program (LCP), which is designed as a bit of an entry course for the GEM program. Students who are interested in becoming effective leaders on campus in their student organizations are encouraged to apply. The LCP gives exposure to basic concepts which GEM expands upon. GEM and LCP allow students a once in a lifetime experience. Those who are involved develop skills that are critical to becoming successful leaders, as well as help ease them in the daunting transition from college to the professional world.
Alumni can find us on our Facebook group “Georgia College Honors Alumni.” The group’s objective is to maintain and renew friendships among Georgia College Honors alumni, and to create educational and professional opportunities for current Honors students. Send us your news via the Facebook group or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Lynne Wilcox ‘75
Lynne has been appointed president-elect of Georgia College Alumni Board and adjunct professor in the College of Health Sciences.
Peggy Harris Walker
Peggy was admitted to the first law school at Georgia State in 1982. Since then, she has practiced law for twelve years and is a full time judge of the Juvenile Court of Douglas County. She has been recently elected to the Chair the Georgia Commission of Family Violence.
Brandi Evans Walker ‘97
Brandi earned her Masters & Specialists at Georgia College and has been teaching 6th grade math at Clifton Ridge Middle School in Jones County. She is married and has an 8 year old son and 10 year old daughter.
Amanda Hudson Lucas ‘98
Amanda is a Clinical Nurse Specialist with the Center for Palliative Care at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. She also speaks for PESI Healthcare as a secondary job.
Brittany Thomson McGowen ‘07
Brittany has been accepted for a position in the underwriting department at Georgia Underwriting Association. She recently celebrated her fourth anniversary with her husband (also a Georgia College alum). They have three children together.
Rachel Brochstein ‘09
Rachel is starting on a MA program in classics at Trinity College in Dublin.
Rebekah Clark ‘09
Rebekah spent 2 months working in an orphanage in Acapulco this past summer. She is now teaching Spanish at East Jackson Comprehensive High School in Commerce, Ga.
Christin Ivey ‘09
Christin is currently in Alexandria, Egypt to get certified in teaching English as a foreign language. She plans to continue in this direction with a six week internship with TEFL International, where she will teach English at a local lycee. Christin plans to return to Milledgeville in the spring to take her GRE and LSAT.
Lauren Lundin ‘09
Lauren is living in Wroclaw, Poland teaching ESL at Wroclaw International School.
Amethyst Jamieson Shey ‘09
Amethyst married Daniel Shey in July 2010.
Chelsea Wilson ‘09
Chelsea has been working as a Grassroots Promotions Representative for Fastpitch Softball in the Marketing Department of Worth Sports in St. Louis, Mo.
Patty Maguire ‘10
Patty is working at a retirement plan administration firm in Long Island, NY.
Caroline Rentz ‘10
Caroline interned at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in Washington, D.C. with the Charles G. Koch Fellowship Program this past summer. She is currently completing her MA in political science at the University of Georgia. She hopes to work in a public policy think-tank or go on to pursue her Ph.D. in political science.
Megan Thurber ‘10
Megan is teaching 6th grade Language Arts at Haymon-Morris Middle School in Winder, Ga. She is also an 8th grade advisor and newspaper sponsor.
Writer: Kelsey Donaldson
Contributing writer: Ala Bishop