Joshua Fuller ’17 Selected for $5K Graduate Fellowship

Congratulations, again, to Joshua Fuller ’17!

Fuller graduated in May, and served as a leader in the Honors community on campus as president of Honors Student Council as well as a Sophomore Advisor then as Junior Advisor in the Honors Housing Community.

College Station, TX – Joshua Fuller ’17 of Flagstaff, AZ, has been awarded a Graduate Fellowship worth $5,000 by The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. Fuller, who graduated in May, also received a $500 scholarship as the nominee from the local chapter and received the […]

via Joshua Fuller ’17 Selected for $5K Graduate Fellowship — Phi Kappa Phi at Texas A

HSC Announces Changes for Fall 2017


This brief update is intended to explain upcoming changes to Honors Student Council (HSC).

Based on feedback from Honors Students this past year, HSC presented a proposal to the Honors and Undergraduate Research Advisory Committee (HURAC) to change the University Honors Program participation requirement beginning in Fall 2017. The proposal was discussed and approved at the December 2016 HURAC meeting.

In order to meet the participation requirement going forward, all non-freshman University Honors Program students will need to attend two events per semester, one of which must be academic in nature. While participation in HSC-sponsored events is a requirement of the program and a responsibility of Honors students, our goal as  HSC leadership is to ensure that these are such  outstanding opportunities that you look forward to taking part in them, rather than see them as an obligation. Thus, we will always look forward to your feedback and suggestions on potential HSC events.

These changes are designed to strengthen the larger Honors community outside of our freshman Living Learning Community. Our perspective is that increased interaction will strengthen our community, start new conversations, and advance the common ideals we share as Honors students. We aim to diversify and enrich your experience as an Honors student and invite you to broaden your horizons!

We hope that you will benefit from this change. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please email us at or come to any of our general Honors Student Council meetings, which will now occur monthly.

Thanks & Gig ‘Em,

The 2016-17 HSC Officer Team

2016-17 HSC Officers
Left to right: Katie Ferry ’18 — President, Sanjana Srikanth ’18 — Executive Vice President, Zowey Lidyard ’18 — Chair of Information Technology, Regan Puckett ’17 — Treasurer / Secretary, Valerie Melendez ’19 — Vice President of Social Activities, Sarah Kilpatrick ’18 — Vice President of Special Events and Academics

Student Voices: Joshua Higginbotham Sabbatical

-By Joshua Higginbotham ’17

My name is Joshua Higginbotham, and I’m a 5th-year senior studying Computer Science. At the end of my junior year (after the Spring 2016 semester), I took a semester off. No, I didn’t just stay home and chill all Summer, but I also didn’t go for an internship, or study abroad, or go on a mission trip, nor do any of the things that one might ordinarily expect a college student to do when not in classes. Further, it wasn’t just Summer but also the Fall, and I only very recently (for the Spring 2017 semester) returned to classes.

There were several reasons that I took a semester off, some personal and some practical.

To begin with, taking a semester off made my degree plan look a lot nicer. What does that mean? It means that my undergraduate course load has at most 2 computer science classes in any given semester. Many of my major-specific upper-level classes are Spring-only (according to Howdy), and I was staring down the prospect of having to take 4 such classes in a single semester (which would have been Spring 2017) because they couldn’t be taken at any other time. Up until the point at which I began considering this, I had never made lower than an “A” in any of my computer science classes. Nonetheless, taking four of them at once was not a challenge that I felt up to.

Taking a semester off obviously pushed my graduation date back by a semester, but it also allowed me to spread out my remaining computer science classes more efficiently, so that now I not only do not have a semester with 4 upper-level computer science classes, but do not have a semester with more than 2 of them. The Spring 2017 semester proved to be a very reasonable workload for me, so I have no reason to regret my decision to take a semester off: 2 upper-level CS classes is plenty.

I understand that many students can’t delay graduation for the sake of an easier course load because of financial issues or contractual obligations, but for anyone else I would highly recommend considering something like what I did: plan your courses as well as you can because you will learn better and make better grades when you are under less stress, and those benefits are ultimately more important than when exactly you graduate.

While this partly answers the question of why I took a semester off, there still remains the question of what I did with that time.

Joshua Higginbotham ’17 in front of the abbey church at Clear Creek Monastery

I devoted my time off to discerning a religious vocation with the Order of St. Benedict. What does that mean? In the Catholic Church (yes, I’m Catholic) there are a number of groups of men and women who live lives completely consecrated to God’s service. The Order of St. Bendedict (OSB for short) in particular is composed of a number of monasteries inhabited by male religious (or “monks”) and convents of women religious (or “nuns”) who live life in community and observe the famous Rule of St. Benedict. They eat, pray, and work together, and rather than having some distinctive “apostolate” (preaching, caring for the sick, teaching in schools, etc.) they are content to perform whatever works of charity that Providence sends their way, or even to live life completely separated from “the world.”

This explanation is given only to provide some context, and must necessarily be brief. To anyone who wishes to learn more about the Order of St. Benedict, I highly recommend googling “clear creek abbey tulsa ok” or “clear creek monks.”

Anyway, I spent my time off discerning whether that was the time to enter religious life. I spent the Summer at a small monastic foundation in Arlington, near where I live, and a few days in the Fall visiting Clear Creek Abbey (the same Clear Creek as was mentioned earlier). I also met with the bishop of my home diocese, attended Holy Mass very regularly (every day in fact, with few exceptions), and began praying the Divine Office more (something else you might learn about if you look up Clear Creek Abbey…). I spent a lot of time reading the Holy Scriptures and Church fathers, and talked matters over at great length with my parents and spiritual director.

Ultimately we came to the conclusion (as you might have guessed by this point) that it would be best to continue my undergraduate studies. There is no need (or space) to discuss the reasons for this, other than to say that it simply wasn’t yet the right time for me to attempt to enter the religious life.

Despite that (rather, because of it), I learned and grew a great deal during my time off. It was certainly difficult, but returning to classes was not as difficult for me as others had anticipated and I now have a much better sense of direction for my life. The monastic life is not for everyone, but everyone can learn from it, and even benefit from it, whether it be for just a few days or during a semester off. Who knows? One might even discover a calling, as I have, to live it for a lifetime.

Daniel Singleton Selected for 2017 Honors Faculty Mentor Award

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. Daniel Singleton, 2017 Wells Fargo Honors Faculty Mentor Award Recipient

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.”

Sara Alpern Selected for 2017 Unterberger Award

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. Sara Alpern, 2017 Unterberger Award Recipient

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.

From Promise to Achievement