An op-ed piece by Marvin Krislov and Stephen S. Volk in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Apr. 7, 2014) titled “College is Still for Creating Citizens,” highlights a crucial role played by the undergraduate education in crafting leaders who are thoughtful about “what kind of life might be meaningful, productive and rewarding.” This is a concept which dates (at least) to Aristotle and up through the history of civic participation in the United States. Krislov & Volk demonstrate that a broad set of competencies key to a liberal education—and which are reflected in the TAMU Undergraduate Learning Outcomes—remain in high value and demand relative to job-specific skills.
Among these competencies, the TAMU Undergraduate Outcomes lists the practice of personal and social responsibility, including ethical leadership, the application of rational decision-making to ethical dilemmas, awareness and attention to the consequences of one’s actions, and engaging in civic activity. The University Honors Program encourages our students to practice personal and social responsibility by considering how their values, goals, and talents intersect, and making intentional choices to pursue careers that allow them to make significant contributions in the areas they care about most.
One student who exemplifies this commitment to practicing personal and social responsibility is Victoria Easton ’15 from Tomball, TX, who recently graduated with a double major in history and philosophy. In addition to participating in the University Honors Program, Liberal Arts Honors, and the Cornerstone Learning Community, Easton was an officer for FREE, an anti-trafficking organization, and was the founder and president of the American Indian Student Association. Easton was also a National Merit Scholar and President’s Endowed Scholarship recipient, and was awarded the History Undergraduate Scholarly Activities Grant to support her independent research.
The University Honors Program encourages our students to practice personal and social responsibility by considering how their values, goals, and talents intersect, and making intentional choices to pursue careers that allow them to make significant contributions in the areas they care about most.
Easton said that she decided to start the American Indian Student Organization because, while Texas A&M is a diverse institution, she found, “no place for Native students to build connections with one another or promote the role of the distinguished Native alumni in our university’s history.” Easton found that her cultural heritage and professional interests intersect in an important way. Describing an internship with the Center to End the Trafficking and Exploitation of Children (CTEC), she noted that ads aimed at exploiting women used, “Indian heritage as effective selling point.” This experience has helped push Easton into exploring the issue of exploitation and violence against women in Native American communities.
In 2014 Easton was selected for the prestigious Morris K. and Stewart L. Udall Scholarship, which annually awards 50 scholarships to students pursuing careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care. Easton was selected based on her work studying historical notions of law, justice, and gender in Muscogee communities and plans to complete a senior thesis on the topic next spring through the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Easton’s research mentor, Dr. Angela Hudson, noted that it is rare to see a student combine their civic commitments and scholarly interests as well as Easton has. “In combining these concerns [violence and exploitation of Native women], she has crafted a career trajectory that is not only reflective of her scholarly work but also demonstrates her commitment to engaged community activism, with a maturity and confidence rare in students of her age.” After attending law school, Easton plans a career advocating for human trafficking and domestic abuse victims.