Honors Course Contract Spotlight: “Walk a Mile in [His/Her] Shoes”

Honors Course Contracts provide students who are pursuing an Honors  graduation distinction the opportunity to earn Honors credit for courses that are not already being offered as Honors. The Honors Course Contract experience varies depending on the discipline, course material, and instructor. No matter what the expectation, though, students can expect an Honors Course Contract to ask for higher-level thinking and reflection.

The following post from Madyson Smith ’16, a senior communication major and Honors in Communication student describes the project she undertook and what she learned from the experience.

By Madyson Smith ’16

For my Honors project for ENGL 403: Language and Gender course at Texas A&M, I wanted to write a creative work of fiction. I felt that learning through creative writing would enable me to: 1) think critically to portray another’s thoughts and feeling regarding gender and 2) broaden my own perspective on the topic.

Working on this Honors project, I met these goals. Throughout the semester, I enjoyed working slowly, taking my time with the process of familiarizing myself with gender concepts. I took inspiration from class readings, movie clips, discussions, and real-life applications of concepts. I met regularly with the professor of my class to brainstorm ideas and discuss my progress on the project. Mainly, my professor kept me on track and provided suggestions and encouragement regarding my project.

When I finished my project about a week before finals, I emailed a PDF copy to my professor and also turned in a printed out copy in a report cover. My work of fiction ended up being 26 pages in total, and my story adopted five different points of view.

The title page of Madyson Smith's short story collection, written for her Honors course contract.
The title page of Madyson Smith’s short story collection, written for her Honors course contract.

When I started my project, I knew that my literary piece would discuss gender issues and would incorporate what I learned in the class, especially the psychological implications of societal gender construction. What I didn’t know was what direction my creative story would take and how much I would enjoy the opportunity to apply what I learned in class through this Honors project.

Below is an excerpt from one of Smith’s stories, “Kevin”:

Why did we have to pack up and move here? Was there honestly anything appealing about this place? The humidity? I can’t even breathe here.

I glanced around at the lunchroom… These high-schoolers were actually dressed up like they were going to the rodeo or farm after class: light jeans and boots and shiny belt buckles and stupid pearl snapped shirts.

I lowered my eyes to my ensemble: my black jeans and tailored, striped sweater. These clothes fit me… and my spirit. Already, I missed home. Home, where it was cold and rainy. Home, where I had all my friends. I looked up. This place was not home.

“Hey!” a perky voice squeaked. The source was blonde, bouncy, beaming. Her smile was as wide as the dumb cowboy hats the guys wore outside in the parking lot. “You’re new here, aren’t you?” she asked.

She sat down next to me and pushed my tray to make room for hers.

“My name is Amanda,” she smiled.

I fidgeted with my fork, pushing my canary-yellow macaroni around on my tray. Mental note: bring lunch tomorrow. This crap is a joke.

Loud laughter erupted behind me. I whipped my head back and saw the source of all the ruckus: a group of white, well mostly white, guys. Most of them were wearing letterman jackets with jeans and their annoying cowboy boots. And they seemed to be
interested in my table… or maybe just Amanda. She looked like a Mandy to me. I’ll call her Mandy.

Click here to find the rest of “Kevin” as well the other stories in “Walk a Mile in [His/Her] Shoes.”

To learn more about contracting a course for Honors credit, please visit http://honors.tamu.edu/Honors/Earning-Honors-Credit.

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