By Paul Keiper, Ed.D.
Clinical Associate Professor in Sport Management
Growing up, a long time ago, I always felt the Olympics were cool. I would watch some of the events on TV and cheer for an athlete to win; usually someone from the US. I can remember athletes like Mark Spitz or Franz Klammer; these were Olympic athletes back in the 70’s, just in case you have never heard of them ☺.
One of my earliest memories of the Olympic Games were the ’72 Summer Games held in Munich, Germany. In these Games, there were hostages taken and eventually 17 people lost their lives in an awful terrorist assault. I was 8 years old; I can still see images that were shown on TV. As a child, I could not fathom the rationale behind such action. To be honest, I still do not fully understand even after learning more about the tragedy.
I have spent a great deal of my life working with sport as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Now, as a professor in sport management, I spend a great deal of time hoping and trying to make the world better through the use of sport. Knowledge is key. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know.
In my endeavors and desires to gain more knowledge of sport, I developed the SPMT 220 Olympic Studies course. This course is an approved language, philosophy, and culture core curriculum course. It is the perfect platform to use the biggest global sporting event for knowledge and understanding. Through this course, I hope to make a difference in the world.
With that background in mind, we have teamed with Dr. Dikaia Chatziefstathiou to offer a special section for honors students in Spring 2017. Dr. Dikaia Chatziefstathiou has dual citizenship in Greece and the UK. She is an expert on the Olympic Games and has published a great deal on the topic. She has the honor of winning an award for her researcher from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Dr. Chatziefstathiou has an amazing way of clarifying the Olympics and Olympic values for her students.
I met Dikaia in December of 2014. We, the very first class to take SPMT 220 Olympic Studies, went on an international field trip to Greece. The trip was awesome! We learned more about the Ancient Olympic Games, which were held ~ 776 B.C. – 393 A.D. and the modern Games. Dikaia was an academic speaker for our students on that trip. The students loved her; and, they learned a lot from her.
This course will be taught completely online as she will be based in the UK. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about the Olympics from an international expert on the topic. I hope you will consider taking this course from her; there will be a limit of 20 students. If you have more questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
Honors Student Council (HSC) president Katie Ferry ’18 recently attended the annual conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) to network with Honors student leaders from across the country, think about what successes and struggles they have had that can help us improve HSC, and share those insights back to campus.
In the coming weeks, Ferry plans to share the ideas that she brought back from conference with the HSC leadership. If you’re interested to take part in these exciting projects, check out the HSC meeting schedule at http://tamuhonorsstudentcouncil.weebly.com/.
While at the conference, Katie kept a blog of her experiences. Here’s an excerpt from the first post:
I’ve been at the NCHC conference for about a day and a half now, and, to be frank it feels like Howdy Week 2.0: inwardly I feel tired, excited, and like my blood is slowly turning to coffee, but outwardly I look like a pristine representative for the best University on this planet. It’s hard not to have a touch of imposters syndrome while listening to students talk about how they have gone beyond the call of service and really pulled their honors program up by its bootstraps all while being an excellent student and person. It’s both inspiring and worrying.
I’ve tried to come up with some great and philosophical thing to write here about how my peers from across the country have filled me with this awesome energy to make Honors Great Again, but I can’t. I keep thinking about what I can do with HSC and how I wish I had more time to do it. I have six months left as my term as HSC president I’m realizing that if I want to make any of these long term projects achievable then I need to start thinking of how I can set this up for the future honors students.
To read more of Ferry’s reflections on the conference, visit http://katies-nchc-2k16.tumblr.com/.
One of the most powerful forces on any campus is a group of focused, motivated students. This is, in part, because the university as a marketplace of ideas is intended to be a place where students have the opportunity to put learning into practice. Student passion for progress has contributed to all sorts of change throughout the history of higher education.
One person who was effected significant change for Honors at Texas A&M is Dr. Keri Stephens ’90 (née Keilberg), who graduated with a B.S. in biochemistry and received the Rudder Award. Dr. Stephens now serves as an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Texas, where she earned her M.A. And Ph.D. in organizational communication. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Stephens did technical sales, marketing, and corporate training for Hewlett Packard, Zymark Corporation, and EGI.
Dr. Stephens visited with University Honors Program staff on a recent campus visit and shared some of her experiences and contributions that have shaped the Honors experience at Texas A&M for over 25 years.
In 1989-90, as president of Honors Student Council, Stephens was part of the committee that established special housing for Honors students. Stephens recalled that she was concerned that an Honors residential community not become “isolated nerds.” This might have been a particular concern to Stephens, who was a role-model for involvement on campus, winning a Buck Weirus Spirit award her sophomore year.
Visiting with Honors staff, Stephens was glad to hear that the Honors Housing Community has built a strong reputation for being highly involved in campus traditions such as Silver Taps, Muster, and Midnight Yell, and regularly attends football games together.
Another way in which Stephens has bequeathed a legacy to Honors students is in providing graduation recognition. She recalls that up until her senior year there was strong opposition to any kind of special recognition at graduation. Stephens attended a national conference as president of the Mortar Board Society in December of 1989 at which she observed that Texas A&M was the only school represented that did not have some kind of regalia for exceptional graduates. Returning to campus, Stephens led the leadership of Mortar Board Society in drafting a proposal and creating a prototype stole to present to Dr. William Mobley, then president of the university. Stephens felt she could get an audience with President Mobley since she had made a positive impression on him while traveling together to recruit students to the university.
Stephens recalls that President Mobley didn’t let her get far into her proposal before interrupting to confirm that Texas A&M was the only school represented at the national meeting that did not present special regalia to Honors graduates. When Stephens confirmed this, he asked if she could make the stoles available for May graduations. A process that the Mortar Board officers imagined might take years was accomplished in just a few months. Now, close to 10,000 students each year receive that gold satin stole at graduation, recognizing their accomplishment as cum laude, manga cum laude, summa cum laude graduates.
In gratitude for her significant contributions to the culture of Honors at Texas A&M, Dr. Jonathan Kotinek, Associate Director for the University Honors Program presented Dr. Stephens with a gold stole and patches signifying Foundation Honors, University Honors, and University Undergraduate Research Scholars as well as a certificate of appreciation.
Dr. Stephens closed her visit by sharing that her undergraduate research experience was so formative (especially in helping her decide against a career in biochemistry research), that she now makes a point to guide students in research and has mentored 22 undergraduate projects.
We love to share news and success stories from our Honors Former Students! If you have something to share with our current, former, and prospective students and their families, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Honors Welcome on Friday, August 26, recognized twelve new students joining the University Scholars program. University Scholars is a personal and professional development program for high-achieving students who serve as ambassadors for the University Honors program. Each spring, ten to twelve freshmen are selected for the Scholars program through an intensive application and interview process. The program seeks students who are intellectually curious and who demonstrate critical thinking, self-awareness, poise, and maturity. Scholars are able to engage in rigorous conversation and to defend their ideas. They’re also highly accomplished and motivated students who love learning for the sake of learning.
These new Scholars will join their twenty-one peers in the Exploration Series, seminar courses offered to Scholars each semester. Previous Exploration Series have delved into transportation, education, television, comedy, and animal conservation, among many other topics. Sophomores new to the program participate in a personal statement writing seminar, “Futuring Yourself,” together.
Throughout the program, University Scholars seek intellectual challenge and share their unique perspectives from an array of academic and cultural backgrounds. We are excited for twelve new University Scholars to grow in this program during the next three years and look forward to seeing their future accomplishments both at Texas A&M and in the world!
Mustafa Al-Nomani is a philosophy major from Houston, Texas. He is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Phi Eta Sigma. Mustafa is pursuing the Liberal Arts Honors program and has been a bus driver for the Aggie Spirit campus buses. He is also a Regents’ Scholar.
Matthew Curtis is a mechanical engineering major from Spokane, Washington. Matthew completed one deployment with Dog Company, First Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and two training deployments with Animal Company, First Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment to the Kingdom of Jordan. In summer 2013, he was recognized as second in class at the Advanced Assault Course in Camp Pendleton, California. He is a recipient of the Lou and CC Burton ’42 scholarship and the Joseph and Patty P. Mueller scholarship. Matthew volunteers as a Peer Advisor for Veteran Education through the Veteran Resource & Support Center.
Ashley Hayden is a biology major from Friendswood, Texas. She is the vice president of Health Occupational Students of America, a new, national organization for premedical students. Ashley will serve as a supplemental instructor for chemistry or biology this year and is involved in the American Medical Student Association and the Texas A&M chapter of the American Red Cross. This past summer, Ashley shadowed a pediatric ICU pediatrician for over fifty hours. She has also volunteered for more than a hundred hours. Ashley is pursuing a minor in art, as well as the honors programs in the College of Science and the Department of Biology.
Victoria Hicks is a chemical engineering major from Plainfield, Illinois. She is a President’s Endowed Scholar and a member of the Engineering Honors program. Victoria conducts research on dispersed nanomaterials in Dr. Micah Green’s lab, the “Green Group”. This past summer, she interned at Essentium Materials, a company of materials scientists and engineers. During a previous internship at Environmental Solutions in 2015, Victoria was responsible for sales calls and placing purchase orders. She has been a member of Students in Physics, Women in Engineering, and DEEP (Discover, Enjoy, and Explore Physics and Engineering).
Ashley Holt is a biomedical engineering major from Kingwood, Texas. As a Beckman Scholar, she joined Dr. Young’s lab in the Department of Biochemistry, where she studies phage lysis proteins and nature’s antibiotic agents. Ashley is a President’s Endowed Scholar and a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society. As a freshman, she was awarded second place in Texas A&M’s Freshman Sophomore Math Contest and presented a demo at the annual Physics & Engineering Festival as part of the Discover, Enjoy, and Explore Physics and Engineering program. She also participated in John 15, the freshman organization at St. Mary’s Student Center.
Ecaroh Jackson, from Caldwell, Texas, is an interdisciplinary studies major specializing in math and science. She volunteers at Camp Dreamcatcher, which serves children with cancer, and is an AP Scholar and a member of Phi Eta Sigma. As a freshman, Ecaroh participated in the Lohman Learning Community and was a member of a panel for the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Culture’s open classroom.
Joy Koonin, from Concord, California, is an international studies major specializing in international politics and diplomacy. She is a President’s Endowed Scholar and a member of the Association of Cornerstone Students. Joy has attended the Hasbara Fellowship in Israel and the MSC Champe Fitzhugh International Honors Leadership Seminar in Italy. She is an active member of Aggie Students Supporting Israel, the Texas A&M chapter of the Lone Survivor Foundation, and Aggies Support United Service Organizations. In her spare time, Joy runs a costuming and alterations business called Joy’s Dresserie, which specializes in historical clothing. She is pursuing a minor in Chinese.
Luke Oaks is a biomedical engineering major from Troy, Ohio, who serves as a Texas A&M National Scholar Ambassador, a resident advisor for the Startup Living Learning Community, and an editorial board member for Explorations: The Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal. As a Beckman Scholar, Luke is developing technology for lung cancer detection in Dr. Gerard Coté’s bioinstrumentation lab. Luke received the Class Star Award for Leadership and was selected as one of fifteen scholars in the nation to serve on the Pearson Student Advisory Board, through which he will improve educational technologies. Luke is the vice president of A&M’s club tennis team and a mentor to the Posse Scholar community. He is pursuing a minor in sociology.
Keith Phillips is an electrical engineering major from Flint, Texas. As a member of Engineers Serving the Community, he contributed to an interactive exhibit about water tables and runoff for the Brazos Valley Fair Water Demo. For the past several summers, he has interned as a programmer and IT technician at KP Evolutions, a company that designs automated systems. Keith is a President’s Endowed Scholar and will serve as a Sophomore Advisor this year. He also participates in Student Bonfire. Keith is licensed as an apprentice electrician in the state of Texas and is pursuing a minor in Business Administration.
Alex Skwarczynski is a computer science major from Knoxville, Tennessee. He conducts aerospace research with Dr. Raktim Bhattacharya to predict possible orbital collisions. This summer, Alex interned with a tech startup. During a previous internship at Oak Ridge National Lab in 2015, Alex helped develop the concept for an improved neutron imaging instrument. He has participated in the Society of Flight Test Engineers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Engineering Honors Program. Alex is a Brown Foundation Scholar, a President’s Endowed Scholar, and a National Merit Scholar and is pursuing a minor in business administration.
Ashley Taylor is an aerospace engineering major from Austin, Texas, and has recently returned from a summer of study abroad in Doha, Qatar. Ashley is a member of the Engineering Honors Program and the Society of Flight Test Engineers. She is also a general engineering representative of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This year, Ashley will serve as a Sophomore Advisor; she was previously a Resident Advisor in Lechner Hall. As a NASA High School Aerospace Scholar in 2014, Ashley researched bioregenerative life support systems. She is a recipient of the Peter Hunter Dunham ’74 Scholarship.
Taylor Welch is a business honors major from Houston, Texas, and a member of MSC Business Associates, the Mays Business Honors Program, and Texas A&M National Scholar Ambassadors. Last summer, she attended the MSC Champe Fitzhugh International Honors Leadership Seminar in Italy. As a freshman, Taylor served as a member of MSC Freshmen in Service and Hosting and the MSC Wiley Lecture Series, receiving the MSC First Year Involvement Award and the MSC Diversity of Involvement Award. She continues as a member of the MSC LT Jordan Institute for International Awareness, where she will serve as the Internship and Living Abroad Programs Director this year. Additionally, Taylor sits on the University Disciplinary Appeals Panel. She is a National Merit Scholar, a President’s Endowed Scholar, and a Craig and Galen Brown Foundation Scholar.
Freshmen interested in applying for the University Scholars program can learn more by attending information sessions in November or the recruitment mixer in December. The application will open in January 2017. See our website at http://honors.tamu.edu/Honors/University-Scholars.
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 high-impact education at Texas A&M.
The 2016 recipient of the Unterberger Award is Dr.Sarah Misemer.
LAUNCH: Honors extends a warm thank-you to Dr. Misemer for her contributions to Undergraduate Research and her support of students in the humanities! Dr. Misemer was recognized by Dr. Sumana Datta, executive director of LAUNCH, at the LAUNCH Recognition Ceremony in the MSC on Thursday, May 12th. Says Dr. Datta, “Dr. Misemer’s contributions to and support of Undergraduate Research as an administrator and her initiative in promoting and developing the Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholars program are changing the perceptions of how Humanities students can successfully experience these life-changing activities. Her care for our student’s well-being and their education is obvious and much appreciated.”
To see a list of previous recipients, visit the TAMU HUR Faculty Awards page.
Dr. Sarah M. Misemer is an associate professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies and the 2016 recipient of the Betty M. Unterberger Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Education, which celebrates a faculty member’s commitment to Undergraduate Research. In 2004, the Unterberger Award 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.
Dr. Misemer has impacted research in the humanities at Texas A&M by establishing the Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholars program. Through this program, a tenured faculty member leads a two-week seminar on a specific topic, and students in the seminar develop a research question to study under the faculty member’s mentorship during the following eight weeks. In this second half of the program, students engage in peer writing activities at the Glasscock Center and in writing studios custom-designed for the program by the University Writing Center. The final outcome is students’ public presentations of their written proposals for future research through the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. The faculty mentor meets with students every two weeks throughout the summer to guide the development of the project and then serves as the research advisor for students’ participation in the Undergraduate Research Scholars program the following year.
In addition to serving as the associate director of the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, Dr. Misemer is the author of Secular Saints: Performing Frida Kahlo, Carlos Gardel, Eva Perón, and Selena (Tamesis, 2008) and Moving Forward, Looking Back: Trains, Literature, and the Arts in the River Plate (Bucknell UP, 2010). Her publications on contemporary River Plate, Mexican, Spanish, and Latino theater have appeared in the journals Latin American Theatre Review, Gestos, Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Languages, and Hispanic Poetry Review, among many others. Additionally, Dr. Misemer’s work with the Latin American Theatre Review includes serving as the editor of its book series and on the editorial board of its journal. She is the past president and vice president of the Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánica. Dr. Misemer holds a PhD in Spanish from the University of Kansas and has been a professor at Texas A&M since 2004.
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 2015 recipient of the Director’s Award is Dr. Dave Parrott.
LAUNCH: Honors thanks Dr. Parrott for sharing his wealth of knowledge about higher-ed law with Honors students in small seminars and workshops, as well as providing guidance and professional development for LAUNCH staff. We wish Dr. Parrott well as he heads to the University of Florida, and are confident that his influence will continue to bear positive results for our staff for years to come!
For a list of previous recipients, visit the TAMU HUR Faculty Awards page.
Dr. Parrott earned his doctorate at the University of Louisville in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Student Affairs Administration. His dissertation research focus was racial identity development. Additionally, he holds an M.A. in College Student Personnel and a B.S. in Business Management from Western Kentucky University.
Dr. Parrott will begin his tenure as Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Florida on June 1, 2016. He has served as Dean of Student Life, Executive Associate Vice President, and Executive Associate Vice President and Chief of Staff at Texas A&M University. Prior to his arrival at Texas A&M University, Dr. Parrott was the Associate Dean of Students and later the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Western Michigan University. Before arriving at Western Michigan University, he served in a number of capacities at Western Kentucky University including assistant hall director, hall director, assistant director of housing, director of residence life, assistant to the vice president, and assistant dean of student life.
Dr. Parrott has taught higher education legal issues at Western Kentucky University, Western Michigan University, Bowling Green State University and Texas A&M University. Dr. Parrott has also consulted extensively in the areas of race relations, conflict management, legal issues, and student conduct policies and processes. He has served on the faculty for the Gehring Academy, the national training academy for student conduct officials, and for the Student Organization Institute, the national training institute for those who supervise or train advisors of student organizations.
Dr. Parrott has served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) (formerly ASJA) in the following capacities: Director at large, President-elect, President, and immediate past President. Most recently he served as Chairperson for the ASCA Foundation. Additionally, he is active in the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and has presented numerous times at both NASPA and ASCA. Dr. Parrott is a charter member of ASCA, an honorary member of the Golden Key Honor Society, and was awarded Life Membership in Delta Sigma Pi – the International Business Fraternity. He is the 2013 recipient of ASCA’s highest honor, the Donald D. Gehring Award that is given in recognition of sustained exceptional individual contributions to the field of student conduct administration. Also, Dr. Parrott was recognized by the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) with the 2013 President’s Award.
Dr. Parrott is married to Dr. Kelli Peck Parrott, and they have two sons, Jackson (11) and Jason (9). Dr. Parrott enjoys listening to vintage music, coaching, being a sports spectator, speaking to groups, fishing, shooting target pistols, tinkering with old Jeeps, admiring muscle cars, and doing small projects in his garage.
In this post, aerospace engineering major and University Scholar Kanika Gakhar ‘18 describes her experience on the Texas A&M Society of Automotive Engineering AERO Design Team and how she plans to use her experience to become an aerospace engineer.
By Kanika Gahkar
The Texas A&M Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) AERO Design Team is a student-run organization of 20 members that participates in the annual international SAE Aero Design Competition. This competition challenges teams to design, build, and fly a remote controlled aircraft capable of lifting an internally stored payload within the competition constraints. This year, my team will be returning as the reigning international champions as we took first in the Oral Presentation, second in the Written Report, and first in the Flight Portion, barely edging out a very competitive Canadian team in the 2014 competition. Our margin for victory came down to less than one point, highlighting the combined efforts of the whole team as we took first overall in an international competition.
When I had learned to tame my ideas and use sophisticated research methods to design engineering products, I looked for a hands-on experience. Before I could move on to innovate bio-influenced aviation technology, I had to understand the current engineering process involved in the building of unmanned aerial vehicles. So, I joined the Society of Automotive Engineering International Aero-Design Team.
As a member of the structures sub-team for the Texas A&M Society of Automotive Engineering AERO Design Team, I am currently working on building a radio-controlled aircraft. Being the only sophomore on the team, I had a hard time initially coping with the workload of my project and keeping up with my upper-classmen teammates. However, I stayed up late at night and tried to do additional research; I searched and searched till I found links between my introductory Aerospace courses and my project assignments. Now, as I work on the wing structures for our airplane, I simplify complex relationships using programming languages and fundamentals taught in freshman classes. I analyze the load distributions and force interactions to model the tandem wing. Laser cutting wood and bending sheet metal gives me hands-on experience. Outdoor flight runs and wind-tunnel testing helps me reflect on the effect of mathematical assumptions on real world situations. Additionally, I use my experience in material analysis from my research in ‘Applications of Shape Memory Alloys’ to work with my team on material testing. Hence, the knowledge gained from my various courses, in addition to my self-motivated research and learning, is helping me elevate myself to the level of my senior teammates and work with them diligently to design our structurally sound aircraft.
As a part of this student-run organization, my team of 20 members participates in the annual international SAE Aero Design Competition. This competition challenges teams to design, build, and fly a remote controlled aircraft capable of lifting an internally stored payload within the competition constraints. This year we will be returning as the reigning international champions as we took first in the Oral Presentation, second in the Written Report, and first in the Flight Portion, barely edging out a very competitive Canadian team in the 2014 competition. Our margin for victory came down to less than one point, highlighting the combined efforts of the whole team as we took first overall in an international competition.
As an aspiring aerospace engineer, I am very fortunate to be granted the opportunity to be on such a prestigious team; this team emulates industry by following a design process with technical analysis, experimentation, and trade-off studies, giving students the opportunity to gain experience unavailable in a classroom environment.
I hope to be able to share my story with the rest of the honors community and encourage them to expand their limits. Using myself as an example, I would like to show the students not to be afraid to chase their dreams even when they think they aren’t ready. In order to do this, I hope to conduct an outdoor session; in this session, I will share my first-hand engineering experiences with the rest of the honors society by conducting a flight demo where my team and I demonstrate our automated aircraft in action. This demo will help the students see tangible proof of my research and encourage them to step outside their comfort zones to expand their horizons. I will also work on recording footage of my team’s progress and my personal and professional development. I will finally compile all the footage in a short, fun video that students can watch at their own leisure.
Kanika’s project was supported, in part, with a University Scholar development grant. Enriching opportunities such as this one are made possible due to the generous support of the University Scholars program by the Association of Former Students.
Due to inclement weather, Kanika’s demo will be rescheduled. Stay tuned for the official date of Kanika’s flight demo.