Congratulations to Honors graduate Joshua Fuller ’17 for being selected as the nominee from the Texas A&M chapter of Phi Kappa Phi for a graduate fellowship!
Check out this great story about Honors Students Omar Wyman and Bailey J. Woods representing TAMU Undergraduate Research at the state capitol!
The Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award recognizes and rewards Honors faculty members whose dedication and commitment to excellence in education is truly outstanding. These faculty members encourage a spirit of inquiry in their students, are thoughtful teachers, and exhibit the strongest desire to train a new generation of thinkers and creators. This award is of special significance because recipients are nominated and selected by Honors Students. The 2017 Wells Fargo Faculty Mentor Award goes to Dr. Daniel Singleton.
Dr. Singleton earned his B.S. degree in chemistry with highest honors from Case Western Reserve University and his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Singleton is a professor of chemistry, and holds the Davidson Chair in Science. His research involves organic, organometallic, and bioorganic reaction mechanisms, and is aimed at revising fundamental understanding of reactivity and selectivity in organic chemistry. Dr. Singleton has been a member of the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty since 1998, and has been selected for numerous awards including the Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award in 1995 and again in 2015, as a University Faculty Fellow, the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching from Texas A&M, and with the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society.
The student who nominated Dr. Singleton writes, “[he] undeniably checks all the boxes any teacher must: he knows his subject, and conveys that knowledge effectively, concisely, and truthfully (truth is unusually scarce in chemistry). Moreover, he has invested at least 12 hours in me personally through supplemental problem and tutoring sessions so far this term. He often shares tales of green flames, metallic bubbles, and unexpected explosions, bringing the human elements of excitement, wonder, and terror to this science of puzzles.
“Everything I listed above could be accomplished by any personable and good-humored expert. Dr. Singleton is more. He truly cares about me and my fellow students. He knows and calls us by name. Early in our teacher-student relationship, he asked after my dreams, as opposed to the common question of how my interests relate to his class. He attended the ring dunk of a former student just last week. It is clear to me that he is personally invested in the wellbeing of his students.
“Dr. Singleton deserves the Wells Fargo Faculty Mentor Award because he is relatable, interesting, informative, and caring. He is teaching me how to be a better scientist, and showing me how to guide and grow people by guiding and growing me.”
In 2004, the Betty M. Unterberger Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Education was created and presented to Dr. Unterberger in recognition of her many years of service and significant contribution to the growth and development of honors education at Texas A&M. The 2017 recipient of the Unterberger Award is Dr. Sara Alpern.
Dr. Alpern earned her undergraduate degree in history and English at Western Reserve University, her M.A. in history from University of California at Los Angeles, and a Ph. D. in history from the University of Maryland, College Park. A member of the Texas A&M History Department since 1977 she taught the first course in U.S. Women’s History in 1979 and helped develop a growing Women and Gender Studies Program. Her publications within the fields of U.S. Women’s History and late 19th and 20th Century U.S. History include biographies, the history of women in business, the effects of woman suffrage and Jewish women in U. S. history. In 1991 she became the first President of an officially recognized Women’s Faculty Network (WFN) of TAMU. In 2016 she received the WFN’s Founder’s Award. Alpern has also received many awards for her research and teaching including a Texas A&M University Distinguished Teaching. In 2009 she was selected as one of 12 “Extraordinary Women Faculty” by the Aggie Women.
Dr. Alpern’s significant investment in Honors education at Texas A&M has spanned close to four decades. She served on the Honors Program Committee from 1979-1981 and again from 2004-2007. She was awarded Honors curriculum development grants in 1991, 1994, and 2004, and has taught Honors courses throughout her career ranging from survey history courses to upper-division courses in U.S. Women’s History and U.S. Business Women’s History. Dr. Alpern served as a faculty mentor for students completing Honors theses through the University Undergraduate Research Fellows program (a precursor to the Undergraduate Research Scholars program) in 2003-2004 and 2005-226. She was recognized with the Honors Teacher/Scholar Award in 2005-2006 for enhancing her teaching through her innovative scholarship. Dr. Alpern also helped establish the future of Honors education at Texas A&M by serving on the President’s Task Force on Enhancing the Undergraduate Experience – Subcommittee on Enhancing Honors Opportunities from 2005-2006, the report of which committee set the stage for the growth of Honors opportunities on campus over the last decade.
The Director’s Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Programs was created in 2010 to recognize significant contribution to and support of the efforts of the University Honors Program on campus. The 2017 recipients of the Director’s Award are Mr. Luke Altendorf and Ms. Catharine West ‘95.
Mr. Altendorf the Director of the Memorial Student Center (MSC). He has served in this role since December of 2006 and is responsible for oversight of the MSC’s leadership development programs and its fine arts series, lecture series, and concert series. Mr. Altendorf received his undergraduate degree in Journalism/Public Relations and his Master of Science Degree in Counseling and Student Personnel Administration. He is active in the Association of College Unions International and has served in many leadership roles in this professional organization.
Ms. West is the Development Relations Coordinator for the Memorial Student Center. She coordinates fundraising for the department, advises the MSC Business Associates of Development, coordinates the Stark Northeast Trip for future law and MBA students and the Champe Fitzhugh Honors International Leadership Seminar. Ms. West, the daughter of a mechanical engineering professor, was raised in College Station, and graduated with an undergraduate degree in marketing from Texas A&M.
Both Mr. Altendorf and Ms. West have been instrumental in helping to create a culture of excellence in the Honors community on campus by leading the Champe Fitzhugh Honors International Leadership Seminar for incoming National Merit freshmen. Affectionately referred to as the “Italy Trip,” the seminar is a partnership between the MSC and Honors that has helped students realize the interconnections between culture and progress and to step into leadership roles across campus to help achieve these goals at Texas A&M. In addition to this important work, Mr. Altendorf and Ms. West are being recognized for helping to establish and strengthen connections between the MSC and the University Honors Program by making access to the enriching programs of the MSC a benefit of participation in Honors.
In the post below, molecular & cell biology and applied mathematical sciences double-major Antoine Marc ’16 describes the challenge he took on as an Honors Student and student-athlete during his time at Texas A&M, as well as the enrichment and growth that resulted from that challenge.
I am Antoine Marc, a current senior about to graduate next week, Whoop! As part of my final swan song to the university, I wanted to talk about my undergraduate journey both as an Honors Student and a student-athlete.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Texas A&M Men’s Swimming and Diving team these past five years. Five years? Yep, I’m a super-senior, taking my victory lap and enjoying A&M before I become an alum. It’s definitely being a unique experience being a student-athlete here, but it still came with its challenges. Ironically enough, I didn’t come to A&M for athletics. I enrolled at A&M as an Honors student with a goal to attend medical school. However, I couldn’t give up swimming. I dedicated my entire high school and the most of my middle school years training in hopes of competing at the NCAA level, but unfortunately, I wasn’t recruited by many Division I schools. Nevertheless, I decided to give it one more shot, and I emailed Coach Jay Holmes about a try-out. Luckily for me, he accepted. Now came the hard part, balancing life as a student and a student-athlete.
As a freshman, I lived in the Honors dorms, Lechner Hall, with my fellow Honors cohort. I decided to participate in the random roommate matching system that A&M provides. Things started off great, but as expected for young 18-year-olds living on their own for the first time the good times didn’t always last. I woke up early and had a strict schedule to adhere for athletics while he was laid back, was part of a band and worked best at night. Naturally, our schedules clashed, and that didn’t make things easy for either of us. After a couple of disagreements, we decided to make the best out of our living situation, and we managed to come up with compromises between each other’s habits and schedules. In the end, living in the dorms was a maturing process, and I learned a lot about myself as an individual.
The main challenge for a student-athlete isn’t the athletics. It’s the academics. Even though I came into college with good grades, college was a definite wake up call. Classes move fast, and once you realize you’re behind, it’s even harder to get back on track. With athletics, it compounded that effect. Balancing my time for Honors academics and athletics amidst a busy schedule was challenging. My daily routine consisted of long nights finishing homework and studying for exams knowing I had to be awake by 5:10 a.m. for practice the next morning.
During each fall, I trained non-stop to get into competitive shape, and each spring, I traveled around the country for competitions, missing days, even weeks, of school at a time. In my first two years of undergrad, I quickly got swamped and didn’t manage to get the same grades I was accustomed to in High School. However, it became easier after I decided to reach out for help.
One of the main advantages of Honors courses are the small class sizes meaning I could talk to my professors on a regular basis. Almost all of my Honors professors went out of their way to accommodate my competition and training schedule to arrange extra office hours if I needed it. The best example I can give was in my Organic Chemistry course. Our class was around 35 students, and every week instead of having assigned online homework assignments, we had weekly problem sets. Our professors encouraged a collaborative effort to solve these more complex homework assignments by scheduling an 8-11pm group session on Tuesday and Thursday nights. He would be available for questions while we work on the problem set together. Don’t be fooled, to finish these problem sets you needed to have all the students working together, attacking the problem from different approaches. Dr. Bregbreiter would have a gleeful smirk on his face when we got something wrong, but his unconventional methods of teaching made us actually learn and understand the material. Balancing swimming and Honors coursework was definitely a challenge, but looking back I’m glad went through it.
One of the unique things I’ve been able to do during my undergraduate career is holding the title as SEC Student-Athlete Representative. Because of my involvement in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, an organization on campus with a goal to facilitate an inclusive relationship between the NCAA, Texas A&M student body, and the student-athlete population, I was chosen to represent the entire SEC conference as a student-athlete representative.
As one of three student-athlete representatives for the SEC, I was able to travel to various conferences and meetings across the nation to discuss the current state of the NCAA with regards to treatment/opportunities for student-athletes. At first, these meetings were incredibly intimidating, to say the least. Usually, I was in a room with around 20 different upper administrators from various universities.
To set the scene, I was sitting next to the President of the University of Georgia, the Athletic Director of Florida, and the Commissioner of the SEC was across the table. During the meetings, everyone looked at me for input on their proposed legislation and ideas for future legislation. It may have been ignorance, by I candidly described my experience as a student-athlete, my thoughts on what was working and my feedback on what needed improving. Fortunately, they liked what I said, and I kept getting invited back to similar meetings to discuss new NCAA legislation. This past January, at the NCAA Convention in Nashville, the entire NCAA voted on those new proposals. All except one passed! I am extremely proud of my work with SAAC and the SEC. Advocating on behave of all student-athletes was my way of giving back to current and future student-athletes, so they might be able to have an even better student-athlete experience than I did.
Overall I am very fortunate to have been an Aggie. This University and the University Honors Program has given me so much and enabled me to pursue my passions both as a student and a student-athlete. I couldn’t have asked for a better undergraduate experience.
Thanks and Gig’em!
To see Marc’s athletics profile, visit http://www.12thman.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=3445.
Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. In the post below, Haylee Matecko ’18 shares her experience working as an intern this past semester and her thoughts on making mistakes and feeling at home.
– By Haylee Matecko
Be a sponge, be open, communicate, build relationships, have strong technical skills, be aware of everything going on around you. In a nutshell, I’ve described both my first week and the expectations that were set forth for this internship. It’s incredibly important for interns to constantly be learning and growing, while also taking responsibilities and working towards that potential job offer in our midst.
Our first week was pure training, and it was incredibly fun. We were in the Dallas office all week; just the North Texas region for the first couple days and joined by Houston on Wednesday. It felt a bit like summer camp instead of my actual job, and I think that was a result of the hotel and breakfast buffets. I met quite a few amazing people who were all my intern peers, one of whom I’ll be working with. Casey is a super sweet person who is interested in the same things as me, which we quickly discovered as roommates at training. HGTV and healthy foods became something fun that we bonded over.
Just when we made it to our home office in Austin, the interns were tasked with decorating the offices of our manager and partner for their birthdays, and I think we succeeded! Here’s a “candid” shot of us decorating. It’s supposed to go in their newsletter, which is exciting! (Basically, I’m going to be famous.)
Throughout the internship, I had tasks similar to this, like ordering lunch for the whole office, or formulating letters to send to clients- these seem minimal, but to me they meant everything. I didn’t want to make a single mistake, because I was afraid of what would follow. In reality, everyone would probably be incredibly gracious about it and help me to the best of their abilities- and they were when I did make mistakes. But in my mind, they would be upset and/or hangry (we all know that could have happened), and always remember me as “the girl that fell through on lunch.” So anyways, I overcame my nerves once I saw the success of my actions, and I have definitely learned to get rid of the nerves at the onset. It’ll be a long time before that happens completely, though- it’s a process.
I also got to experience what it’s like to be working late…! I would say yay, but I wasn’t super excited to check that one off the bucket list. It was a long day – I started a project at the beginning of March, sent it to my manager for review, and hadn’t heard anything since. Then the project came back with an insane amount of comments and corrections – I know, I know. That’s how the review process works! But I had yet to experience this process, so I took every single comment incredibly personally and felt like I was the worst intern ever.
However, the comments weren’t personal. It took me some time to learn that, but when you’re working on a huge project with three years of tax returns and you get a PDF back with that many comments, it hurts. But I worked late and I’m happy to say 1) it was only until 9, and 2) it didn’t happen again. I later had a performance review for this stressful project, and it was surprisingly super positive. I was so happy to hear that I was doing a good job, because after so many corrective comments I felt that I wasn’t doing things very well around here, or that any efforts I had made went unnoticed.
Aside from the work commentary, the environment at my office was something I really appreciated. The people I worked with are hilarious and Austin is so quirky. I loved spending time with the people here, because it’s something so different from anything I’ve experienced in the past three years of college. I like the normalcy I found, with Casey and my Austin roommates and my UT friends and everything. Austin became my home and I had to leave it. This past summer I worked at a bakery in San Antonio, and that summer changed my life in many different ways. I really didn’t want to leave that environment; it was so hard to readjust once I had become part of that. Then in College Station, I finally began to feel a sense of true belonging when all my friends came for my 21st birthday and I was almost in tears because they were singing happy birthday to me and they were all there, surrounding me, smiling at me because they loved me. Wow, that was a big day. Then two weeks later, I shipped myself off to Dallas for training and then Austin for yet another chapter of this crazy life. I cried hugging my sisters at the airport, I started writing to note the stories of what I did at work, and instead it evolved into something so much bigger. I made friends with everyone in a real way, not just in a surface-level sense. I really feel like Austin is home now, but it’s not the only home. It’s one of three that I’ll be shuffling between for the next month and a half while I figure my life out, finish an online class, travel on family vacation, and celebrate important milestones in the lives of people I love.
And if all that doesn’t make you “feelsy,” maybe you just don’t know how attached I get to home. Home to me is the most beautiful sense of the word; home means people I love and it means comfort and happiness and being completely unguarded. Home is a place where I can let my walls down and just be myself and not worry about being judged or criticized. Every home has its quirks, to say the least – sometimes in Austin we don’t do the dishes, in College Station we had a few roach incidents, and in San Antonio one of the rooms in our house is constantly leaking in the corner when it rains a lot. But these things are beautiful in their own ways, and they (along with the people) make each place home. I am so lucky to have three homes, but it’s definitely a challenge. I want each one to be my primary home; I see a life I could and do lead in each place, and I struggle with that. Each city offers its own quirks and its own life pathway that I could head down, but until I get to the point where have to decide exactly which path to continue down, I think I’ll just let the wind blow me where it does.
So, how can I begin with the end? It’s a sad thing to realize, when your journey of sorts comes to a close. But it’s more about seasons of life; new things can’t begin if old things don’t end.
And now that I’ve spat out some life clichés, I’ll wrap up the way my semester in Austin ended. I finished my biggest projects, working on those babies up until the last possible day. I went home for Easter, and was quite literally checking my computer at home. We finished up filing, and while it felt awesome to be finishing up, I also I started to get emotional about the fact that everything was ending. Even though I had only worked at this office for two months, it had become another home (there’s that emotional buzzword again). The free lunches and free coffee were super nice, but I definitely will miss more than that.
On our last week, Monday we left the office early to head to College Station for a recruiting event which was such a blast! We had a cooking lesson, and I hung out with a lovely recruit. We wore cooking hats and made salad dressing, chicken parmesan, and whipped cream for our cheesecake. It was nice to be with work people, but also just to unplug and have a fun night being silly.
The next day we had our intern goodbye happy hour/party, which was great! Our last full day of “work” consisted of little work and mostly being super excited for the adventure that was the Goodnight (aka bowling and such). Everyone pretended it was such a hassle to drive there, or maybe they wouldn’t come, but guess what? Everyone came. And we had so much fun, bowling and eating and enjoying each other’s company for the last few hours we had it. I stayed a little later than the other interns because I just started getting so feelsy about leaving and I really didn’t want to. I ended up still going home earlier than I wish I had, because once I left the karaoke began! But it’s okay, I’ll just have to be sure I stick around for that one next time.
Wednesday Casey and I stopped at the office to give our computers back, said our official goodbyes, and then headed out to the Domain mall for our last day of adventures! And with that folks, you have it – my Austin experience ending but with promises for much more in the future. (Surprise, that means I got a job offer!)
If I had to pass wisdom on to future interns, or to anyone willing to listen, it would be:
- Stop worrying so much about your image. Literally just be yourself, and people will love you. Authenticity and kindness go a long way.
- Do your best, but don’t be so stressed about being perfect that you make yourself physically sick. It’s not worth it because…
- You will definitely make mistakes. So instead of kicking yourself for making them, just learn from it. Soak up all the criticism you can, and ensure that doesn’t happen next time.
- If your coworkers invite you to any experience outside of work, go for it! That’s how you’ll get to know people on a personal level.
So, there you have it. Home #3 is slowly going on a hiatus for the next year or so, but I’ll be back. Back for more taxation and more Austin adventures and more friends and more fun.