HONORS E-NEWSLETTER, SPRING 201
Georgia College’s Academic Recognition Day Student: Matthew Yonz
Being selected as GC’s Academic Recognition Day Student is one of the top honors an undergraduate can receive. After the Board of Regents sends a notification to the president, professors are asked to nominate an individual they feel would best qualify for this award. A committee then reviews the student’s grade point average, honors, and academic achievements and then comes to a final decision.
This year, Matthew Yonz was the student selected for this prestigious honor, and does not see it as just another award to add to his résumé: “I consider being selected as the GC Academic Recognition Day Student one of the highest honors I have received,” Matthew said. “This honor is very meaningful because I was nominated and selected by the professors of GC. I'm proud the professors regard my academic accomplishments enough to select me over all the other graduating seniors at GC.”
Matthew’s honors include: Peach Belt All-Academic Team (2008-2010), ESPN Magazine/College Sports Information Directors Association Academic All-District 2nd Team - District 3 (2009-2010), Beta Gamma Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, the Georgia College & State University Department of Chemistry Research Scholar (2008-present), and recipient of the Higginbotham-Lisse Scholarship for Excellence in Undergraduate Research (2010).
Dr. Ken McGill, chair of the chemistry department, describes Matthew as well-rounded and dependable. “Yonz doesn’t shy away from wanting to learn more about what he’s doing and that doesn’t just apply to school; he is a rare commodity. All the students around here look up to him as a leader. He is extremely active within the department - if something is going on, you know Yonz will be there.”
While studying at Georgia College, Matthew has shown a real proclivity for research. He has presented at conferences in Boston as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico. Currently, Matthew is working with Dr. Catrena Lisse to get his research on material chemistry published in the national magazine Material Letters.
“Matthew is an extraordinary student,” Dr. Lisse said. “He has been doing research with me for the past three years and has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Matthew will receive a letter of commendation from both the House of Legislature and the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, as well as be recognized at GC’s Senior Commencement. Matthew will graduate this May with a double major in mathematics and chemistry.
Book Discussions and Dinner Seminars
Book discussions and dinner seminars have become increasingly popular in their third year with the Honors Program. They serve as an exclusive opportunity for Honors students to experience learning outside of the classroom, a core value of the program. Each event is voluntarily hosted by a Georgia College professor and includes an in-depth discussion of the book or topic as well as a delicious meal, often at the facilitating faculty’s home. These meetings allow Honors students to interact with individuals they may otherwise not encounter.
Savannah Moore, a freshman at GC, said she found it beneficial to be around older students. “The dinners include different ranks of Honors students and it’s a great way to meet older students who have more experience than you do in the program,” she said.
It also allows students to form relationships with professors outside of their major. Professor Pate McMichael participated in his first book discussion in fall 2010, and recalled how much he enjoyed interacting with the students outside of the classroom. “It was interesting to listen to how each student interpreted the book,” McMichael said. “You really learn so much about them and how their views differ from your own.”
This semester there were five book discussions, ranging from humorous modern fiction to tragic literary classics, offering Honors students a wide assortment to choose from. This variety allows students to engage with professors and peers who may share similar interests. The books featured this semester are as follows:
Virginia Woolf's Orlando, facilitated by Dan Bauer, Education
Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, facilitated by Hank Edmondson, Political Science
Ian McEwan's Solar, facilitated by Steve Elliott-Gower, Political Science
Joan Didion's Salvador, facilitated by Mark Huddle, History
Cormac McCarthy's The Road, facilitated by Pate McMichael, Mass Communication
The growing popularity of these activities indicates the shared interest between Honors students and their professors for engaging in academics outside of the classroom.
The Honors Residential Learning Community (RLC), which focuses on global issues and global citizenship, is composed of a group of students who share the same ideals and come together to form a communal setting. The RLC offers discussions called “RLC Talks” that allow students to converse with professors and each other about current issues.
This semester the program offered a handful of events, which were hosted mainly by professors from across campus. The faculty members and volunteers that chose to participate had to research a topic, outline talking points for a discussion, make handouts, and then commit to an appointed time where they could confer with students about the topic. This semester the RLC Talks featured are as follows:
"The Peace Corps" Becky Ament, former Peace Corps volunteer
"Cross-Cultural Communication" Libby Davis, International Education Office
"Music, Identity, and Conflict Resolution" Richard Green, Music
"The Tibetan Children's Villages and Schools" Charles Martin, Education
"The Revolution in Modern European Urban Spaces" Craig Pascoe, History
"International Security in the 21st Century" Jason Rich, Political Science
"COLLAB for AWARENESS (end genocide)" Lauren Sleat, Art
Caroline Clements, a freshman business major and SGA Secretary-elect, describes the talks as a different way of learning. “When you attend the RLC talks you are listening to firsthand accounts of what people have done. It’s more than just facts, you are getting another perspective of topics that you see in the news daily,” she said.
International Students in Honors
Georgia College has proudly been host to many international students for years. Being the only public liberal arts college in the state attracts not only students from Georgia, but from all over the world. International undergraduates in the Honors Program are given the finest education and work opportunities to make their transition easier.
Scott Zhang, a computer science major from China, chose to study at GC mainly because he received an International Student Scholarship which helped him pay for the out-of-state tuition. Scott says when he arrived, the biggest culture shock was the lack of public transportation. “Growing up in a big city (Shanghai), I’m used to taking public transportation to get everywhere. However, I found myself trapped in the middle of nowhere upon my arrival to Milledgeville,” Scott described.
Despite being suddenly thrust into American society, Scott feels he adapted quickly. The more local friends he made, the better he seemed to understand the culture. A tip he gives students thinking about studying abroad is to get involved in everything they can and to not isolate themselves. Scott has embraced American culture to its fullest after being here for almost three years. Scott reflected on how long he’s been here and said, “It’s interesting that I sometimes forget how to write certain Chinese words when I e-mail my parents because I haven’t spoken my native language for two years. Instead, I have picked up lots of southern expressions. One of my friends even told me that my accent has changed.” Scott hopes to continue his education in America by attending graduate school at Georgia Tech.
Freshman math major Rujeko Chionomona came to Georgia College after graduating high school in Zimbabwe. The biggest culture shock for Rujeko was the right to freedom of speech. “Even now, I still cannot talk about certain things to people because where I come from, we do not speak about such things in public,” Rujeko said.
Although sometimes uncomfortable, Rujeko enjoys the relationships she is permitted to build with her professors - back at her boarding school in Zimbabwe, she describes, “if a teacher passes you in the hall they do not say hi and neither do you. The relationship ends in the classroom.” Rujeko says she is also grateful to be a part of the Honors Program because many of the events it holds help her feel less out of place. “In the Honors Program I constantly find myself around great role models and it allows me to work hard to be like them,” she said. Like Scott, Rujeko also plans on staying in America after graduation so she can pursue her graduate degree.
Lisa Baer presented and published parts of her senior thesis at the University of Georgia’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) this semester.
Loribeth Berry received an Outstanding Research Achievement medal from the Biological and Environmental Sciences Department after the GC Student Research Conference April 15.
Julia Borland was elected President of the GIVE Team and will be presenting her research “The Exercise Enhancing Effects of Caffeine” at the Student Research Conference.
Ray Cornay was inducted into ODK, the leadership honors society. He was named one of the “Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities.” He also presented his research this semester at the Georgia Academy of Science and the GC Student Research Conference. Ray was awarded the Excellence in Research Award from Eta Sigma Alpha and is one of the Outstanding Majors for the Biology Department. He will be graduating summa cum lade this May with the title of “Mr. Congeniality” for the Student Ambassador Team.
Caroline Daigle aided in the development of the Georgia College Spanish Club. She also helped activate the Kappa Psi chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Spanish Honors Society.
Lauren Darrow was recently accepted into the Leadership Certificate Program at Georgia College. LCP is a group of students who improve their understanding of leadership, develop their leadership skills, and gain leadership experience by participating in workshops, discussion forums, adventure retreats, leadership conferences, presentations, special initiatives, service projects, community events, and for-credit leadership courses.
Anna Wells was named one of the Outstanding Juniors from the Psychology Department for the 2010-11 school year. She was also inducted into Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.
Honors students James Bridgeforth, Elizabeth Bryant, Michelle Clason, Sarah Crile, Sam Johnson, Will Maimo, Lauren Pavao, and Rachel Zechiel were among 23 students selected to participate in the prestigious GEM Program in 2011-12. This program pairs students with members of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in a year-long mentoring relationship.
Study Abroad: A Glimpse Into Another Culture
Study abroad is a very popular program for Honors students at Georgia College. Being able to visit another country, learn about the culture, and go sightseeing while receiving class credit is a dream vacation for most. Studying abroad is now considered an essential part of a liberal arts education where students take every opportunity to broaden their minds. Two students in particular feel they have greatly benefitted from studying abroad.
Georgia College senior, Tim Bosch, is an economics major who decided to do something different in summer of 2010.
Tim concluded that he wanted to study in China after watching the Olympics that took place in Beijing in 2008. He had a deep desire to experience the culture so that he could as much as he could about the people and their native customs. While in China, Tim took two classes: one in comparative media and the other in philosophy. In the comparative media class, he and his classmates contrasted media from China to media from the United States. In his philosophy class, Tim was taught about the Eastern way of life, which he found most interesting since he grew up learning almost exclusively from a Western perspective.
“That class was the best because I would learn about things in Eastern philosophy and then I could go around town and see everything that I was just learning about in class,” Tim said.
Surprisingly, the language barrier was hardly felt by Tim while he was there - “as soon as we got to the University, we were paired up with a “Chinese Buddy,” he said. “They were Chinese students who knew English well and volunteered to take us to historical landmarks and to restaurants just to hang out.”
Tim was so taken with the country that he plans on returning post-graduation to teach English. “Everyone in China was so welcoming and I loved every minute I was there. I would love to go back and teach English for a couple of years before graduate school,” said Tim.
Tim strongly urges everyone in college to study abroad if they can. “It will make a huge impact on your life and you really benefit from being able to experience a culture outside your own.”
Danielle Paluga, a junior mass communication major and Spanish minor, chose to spend the summer of 2010 in Spain at the University of Valencia.
After receiving much encouragement from her professors, Danielle anxiously boarded the plane, excited to improve her Spanish skills as well as experience the culture first-hand. However, when she arrived, she recognized something all too familiar – Spanish was not the only language spoken in the country – many spoke Catalan.
Danielle recalls, “I was surprised. This was one of the many eye-opening experiences on the trip where I realized how different yet how similar the United States and other countries are. Not everyone in the U.S. speaks English as his or her first language and we all know how diverse our country is. Spain is the same way because they have different languages and cultures.”
Being a big shopper in the U.S., it came as no surprise when Danielle said that her favorite part of being abroad was the shopping. However, she said she also enjoyed going to class. It wasn’t all good times and grins though, as Danielle’s classes (Advanced Spanish & Conversation as well as Spanish Civilization) required her to devote a great deal of time to studying. “I really enjoyed both classes. They were tough, but I know so much about the language and culture and it was worth it,” Danielle said.
Danielle, like Tim, is very adamant about encouraging other students to study abroad. Her last tip is: wherever you go, make friends!
Georgia College Research Symposium
The Georgia College Research Symposium is a great way for students to get involved in research under the aid of a professor. It is held once a year and acts as a gateway for accomplished students to showcase their hard work, as well as grab the interest of younger undergrads who are looking to become more involved. The Honors Program strongly encourages its members to participate in these opportunities whenever they can to better ensure a well-rounded academic career.
The advantages to participating in undergraduate research are vast. Dr. McClure, head of the Symposium, brought up a significant benefit: “When applying to graduate schools, having research experience doesn’t only set you apart from the other prospective students anymore, it is now almost a requirement.” Additionally, possessing a better understanding of what you are studying will help you in the long run when applying to your future job setting.
Katelyn Hebert, a mass communication major, has been doing research with four other mass communication students since January. They are trying to determine the effect that smart phones may have on news consumption. After they finish interviewing around 400 Georgia College students, they will begin recording the results. Katelyn says she is getting excited about presenting at the upcoming Undergraduate Research Symposium. She says she is glad that she chose to participate in this opportunity - “I think research should be a part of every student's undergraduate career because it helps you to not only learn to analyze statistical data and make sense of it, but also to look at some small part of our lives and see how it is affecting us and the world around us,” she said.
Loribeth Berry, a junior geology and environmental science major, is researching the water quality in Washington County, Georgia. She began in the fall with Dr. Samuel Mutiti, a geology professor at GC, and has been focusing on rural counties like Washington because most inhabitants of the county pump their water straight from the ground without checking to make sure it’s clean first. She will be presenting a poster of her findings during the Symposium.
Georgia College alumni can find us on Facebook under the group “Georgia College Honors Alumni.” This group is a great way to stay connected with other Honors alumni as well as act as a resource for current Honors students to create professional contacts.
Chelsea Losh (‘10) writes, "Bobby [Jones ('09)] and I are both getting a Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture at Central Carolina Community College (the most innovative and oldest sustainable agriculture program on the east coast!). To pay rent, I am working at a Power Equipment Store selling chainsaws, tractors, trimmers and the like (no joke!). Bobby is working at a coffee shop that just opened a few months ago. [Bobby worked at Blackbird in Milledgeville.] We have acquired a tiny piece of land and in our spare time are gearing up for our own mini-CSA; we'll be growing and selling: onions, garlic, cabbage, collards, kale, beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, squash, chard, watermelons, melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, Asian greens, hot peppers, bell peppers, peas, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cut flowers. Bobby is experimenting in a different field with storage crops such as black beans, cornmeal, and wheat."
Gary Smith (‘10) writes, "I am in my second semester at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. I'm working towards my masters in world history, and hope to graduate next spring, then, pursue a Ph.D in history. I am focusing on the Indian Ocean as a unit of study, and the interaction between imperialism, globalization, and identity. I also work at the George Mason Special Collections digitizing and archiving historic photograph collections from the 1930s to 1970s. It's a great job that gives me a lot of decision-making power and independence. On top of all that, I am also taking language classes in Urdu (the official language of Pakistan and a close relative of Hindi)."
Deborah Griffin (‘74) writes, "I was an Honors Program participant when I began Georgia College in the fall of 1970. I have enjoyed reading about the current program and am offering to assist in any way I can. After Georgia College, I received a master’s degree at the University of Georgia and a law degree at Mercer University. I have been a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, an Assistant United States Attorney, for almost 30 years. I was honored to receive the 1994 Georgia College Outstanding Alumni Award and am so proud of the direction the university has taken."
We are planning to take Deborah up on her offer and have her talk to current students about their interests in law.
Send your news via Facebook (Georgia College Honors Alumni) or to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer: Samantha Finch
Editor: Anna Wells