University Honors Program Institutes Application Process

For the first time in its history, the University Honors Program will be instituting a formal application process for students who wish to become full-fledged “Honors Students” at Texas A&M University.  The change will go into effect beginning in the Fall 2012 semester, which means that incoming freshmen and continuing students alike will need to apply now.

“Although this may seem like a major paradigm shift, moving to an application will allow the office to better focus its resources on students who truly wish to engage in all that Honors has to offer,” says Assistant Director Jon Kotinek.  “It may seem cumbersome at first, but I’m confident that all students will find that it will result in a more satisfying educational experience for everyone concerned.”

Honors Students admitted to the University Honors Program or any one of the college and departmental honors programs will have exclusive access to benefits such as Honors Priority Registration, the Honors Housing Community, Honors Course Contracts and Independent Study, and priority access to honors and fellowships advising and special programming.  All students who maintain a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPR will be able to enroll in Honors courses.

“One of the biggest changes will be that all incoming freshmen who are accepted into Honors will be required to spend their freshmen year in the Honors Housing Community,” Kotinek adds.  “In this way, we’re actually moving to a sort of ‘residential program.’  I think it will give us a real opportunity to develop some incredibly ‘high impact’ programming.”

Incoming freshmen can access the incoming student application via the ApplyTexas application.  The continuing student application opened August 28, 2011 and close February 24, 2012. Students are encouraged to meet one-on-one with an Honors advisor to help determine which distinction(s) best fit their academic and curricular needs.  A number of open briefings will also be offered; the schedule of these briefings is posted on the Honors and Undergraduate Research website.

“The application process itself will be relatively simple,” Kotinek says.  “Students will have to answer three fairly short essay questions, and our review process will be holistic, taking into account not only the student’s academic preparation but also his or her personal vision, passion for learning, commitment, and risk-taking, not to mention curiosity, self-awareness, and creativity.”

The move to an application process opens a new chapter in the long and storied history of Honors at Texas A&M. Opportunities for Honors study at Texas A&M University were initiated in the mid-1960s in what was then the College of Arts and Sciences. Subsequently, the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science, and Geosciences co-sponsored an Honors Program, and by 1968 all of the academic colleges had joined in the endeavor.

In 1978, the University Honors Program offered a modest thirty honors sections of twenty different courses, with only three upper-division (300-400) courses available. Ten years later, the number of honors sections jumped to 148 in 117 different courses but the number of upper-division sections available was still relatively small at thirty eight. Annual enrollments had climbed from 650 to over 2,000.

In recent years, the growth of Honors study opportunities has been dramatic – for the 2010-2011 academic year, over 300 sections of Honors courses are offered, and in the fall 2010 semester alone, approximately 3,000 students engaged in Honors study at Texas A&M.

Questions about the application process can be directed to Honors and Undergraduate Research, (979) 845-1957 or honors@tamu.edu.

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Honors Program to Host Welcome Ceremony, Aug 28

Honors and Undergraduate Research will be hosting an Honors Welcome Ceremony on Sunday, August 28, from 1 pm to 2 pm in Rudder Theatre.  All students participating in Honors Programs at Texas A&M University are invited to attend.

This ceremony serves as the official “Howdy” from the University Honors Program to new and returning Honors students.  Speakers will include Dr. Sumana Datta, Executive Director of Honors and Undergraduate Research, Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, newly appointed Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies, and Ms. Rika Mallepally, University Scholar ’12.

At this ceremony, speakers will discuss the future of Honors study at Texas A&M and its place in undergraduate education as a “high impact” educational practice.  The ceremony will also feature the induction of the new class of University Scholars, the official student ambassadors for the University Honors Program.

Following the Honors Welcome Ceremony, Freshman Honors students are also invited to then attend Freshman Convocation, which begins at 2:30 p.m. in Reed Arena.  Freshman Convocation is the official beginning of a new student’s entry into Texas A&M University’s Community of Learners and Scholars.

Creativity as a Transcendent Act

This excerpt is from Jonathan Kotinek’s reflection on teaching a University Scholar Mentor Group on “Creativity as a Transcendent Act.”

One of the most satisfying aspects of participating in a University Scholars Faculty Mentor Group is the concrete realization of what it means to be in a “community of learners.” The topics and discussions we visited in our meetings were subjects that I revisited throughout the last year: at work, with my children, and in my own scholarly and creative production.

University Scholars discuss the elements of art with artist J. Vincent Scarpace.

 

I’ve realized that education is providing access to new technologies, machines—yes—but also processes, theories, literatures, all of which have idiosyncratic languages. At our best, educators demonstrate that these technologies exist, introduce their use, and perhaps even engage discussion about whether they should be used.

When we are really successful, our students are aware that technologies might exist to solve questions they have not yet asked, how to find those technologies, and begin critically evaluating the ethics of those technologies. None of this would be possible without pushing the students to explore an uncomfortable subject or situation in the relatively safe setting of a classroom to give confidence so that they can do more of that exploration on their own.

You can read the whole post at http://jkotinek.blogspot.com/2011/08/creativity-as-transcendent-act.html.

Graduate Student Hans Schneider Receives Fulbright to Ukraine

Hans Schneider

Hans Schneider, a doctoral student studying urban and regional science at Texas A&M, has received a Fulbright grant to develop a comprehensive regional plan for preserving eight historically significant wooden churches and other historic sites in western Ukraine. He’ll travel to Europe this August to begin the 10-month project.

Sponsored by the Department of State, The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards scholarships to graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals, and artists selected through a national, merit-based competition for study and research abroad. It is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. Grants are awarded on the basis of a statement of grant purpose, support from the host country and references.   Academic fields include the social sciences, humanities and the sciences. The Program emphasizes leadership development. Approximately 1,500 scholarships are awarded each year for study in over 150 countries.

“It’s really a special honor to receive a Fulbright grant,” says Texas A&M Fulbright Program Advisor Kyle Mox.  “Mr. Schneider’s achievement is the sort that puts our academic programs in the national spotlight.  Just as important, he now has the opportunity to help preserve an important piece of our cultural legacy for future generations.”

Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010, the eight churches are outstanding examples of building structures and architectural design that illustrate a significant era of human history.

“The wooden churches in western Ukraine are unique architectural structures incorporating Byzantine art with local wood building traditions,” says Schneider. “Though extensive interest exists with the local people and academia for the preservation of these churches, international interest is still lacking.”

Schneider said he’ll work with professors at Lviv Polytechnic National University to develop a preservation plan aimed at drawing local and international attention to the churches while promoting local industry and tourism.

Conducting such a large-scale project in a foreign country and culture is no small task.  Though Schneider has been learning the Ukrainian language from a tutor and online classes, his first month in Ukraine, he said, will be spent on intensive language training. Also, during his first four months, Schneider will research Ukrainian preservation laws and work to develop contacts among the nation’s preservation organizations, government agencies and religious organizations that worship at the churches.  His final six months in the field will be spent developing a preservation plan for the churches that addresses issues at the building, city and regional levels.  (A full slide-show of three of the churches can be viewed here).

Schneider is one of two Texas A&M students to receive a Fulbright grant for the 2011-2012 academic year.  The other student, Ana Monzón, a 2010 graduate in political science, will be traveling to Brazil to study international agribusiness and Brazil’s unique approach to the global agro-food sector.  Other recent recipients include nuclear engineering undergraduate Kristina Yancey (Switzerland) in 2010-2011 and entomology graduate student Michelle Sanford (Thailand) in 2008-2009.

The application cycle for Fulbright Grants for the 2012-2013 cycle is currently underway.  Students who are considering applying for the Fulbright can learn more about the program at http://us.fulbrightonline.org and http://fulbright.tamu.edu. Students about to begin an application should contact Mr. Kyle Mox, Fulbright Program Advisor and National Fellowships Coordinator at (979) 845-1957 or kemox@tamu.edu.

Aggie Fulbrighter Kristina Yancey Featured by Mobility International

Recent Honors graduate and Fulbright grant recipient Kristina Yancey ’10 was recently featured on the Mobility International USA website, in part for her ongoing video blog about her experiences conducting research on nuclear reactor design in Switzerland.  Read the post on the MIUSA website.

Mobility International USA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that exists to empower people with disabilities to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development.  MIUSA sponsors international disability leadership programs in the U.S. and abroad and provides advising and other support for people with disabilities, professionals and organizations on increasing disability inclusion in international study, volunteer, teach and other exchange programs.

Sponsored by the Department of State, The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards scholarships to U.S. graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists selected through a national, merit-based competition for study and research abroad. Academic fields include the social sciences, humanities and the sciences. The Program emphasizes leadership development. Approximately 1,500 scholarships are awarded each year for study in over 150 countries.

Yancey spent her time in Switzerland working with the FAST Reactors Group at the Paul Scherrer Institute near Zurich. Yancey was an Honors Research Fellow graduated with distinctions from the Engineering Scholars Program and with both Foundation Honors and University Honors distinctions from the University Honors Program. A President’s Endowed Scholar and a Galen T. Brown Scholar, she has served as president of the Global Justice student organization. She has also been recognized with the Aggie Spirit Award for determination in the face of adversity and as a Stinson Scholar by the Department of Nuclear Engineering.

For further information, contact Mr. Kyle Mox, National Fellowships Coordinator, Texas A&M University Honors and Undergraduate Research, at (979) 845-1957.

Applications Accepted for Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships

Honors & Undergraduate Research invites applications for University nomination to the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell Scholarships—three of the most prestigious academic scholarships in the world.  Although these awards are highly competitive, students from Texas A&M do routinely progress to the finalist stage, and many Aggies have received these awards.  In fact, since 2004, 13 Aggies have been selected as finalists for the Rhodes, Marshall, or Mitchell Scholarships, four Aggies have been selected as Rhodes or Marshall Scholars!

Why Apply?

These awards not only provide the opportunity to obtain a graduate degree in the UK or Ireland, they also provide the opportunity to join an elite cohort of colleagues and peers.  The Rhodes Scholarship provides one to three years of complete support for graduate study at Oxford University.  The Marshall Scholarship supports one to three years of graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom.  The Mitchell Scholarship is tenable for one year of graduate study at any university in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Awards include cost of tuition, fees, travel, books, and a monthly stipend.  [NB – in the UK/Ireland, a master’s degree may be easily completed in one calendar year.]

Who Should Apply?

Applications will be accepted from students who are entering their senior (i.e. graduating) year or who are recent graduates.  Competitive applicants must possess an excellent academic record (e.g. 3.7+ in a challenging curriculum), demonstrate significant leadership and service experience, have produced or be engaged in substantial scholarly or creative work, and show a high degree of motivation and clarity of personal vision.

For further information on the application process and to access additional resources, visit the National Fellowships website.

How Do I Apply?

To apply for these awards, students must first apply for University nomination through Honors & Undergraduate Research.  A preliminary application consists of the following:

  • A 1,000-word essay that addresses your academic interests and educational and long-term professional goals, with special emphasis on how study in the UK will benefit you.
  • A one to two-page resume that lists pertinent activities and accomplishments
  • A list of five to eight people who will write letters of recommendation (NB: at least four should be professors).  The list should include name, title, email address, and telephone number

Honors Grad Bianca Manago Receives Brown-Rudder Award

Bianca Manago '11Honors graduate Bianca Nicole Manago of Lansing, Kansas, has been selected as one of this year’s two recipients for the Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award, the highest award given to undergraduates at Texas A&M University.

The award honors top students who exemplify the leadership and related traits of the late Gen. Earl Rudder, a World War II hero who served as president of Texas A&M from 1959 until his death in 1970.  It includes a cash gift of $5,00.

Manago graduated with a 3.9 grade point average while carrying a double major in Sociology and Philosophy. A University nominee to the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, she is a founding member and chair of One Love, a group of more than 70 students who participate in a number of social justice, sustainability and green initiatives at Texas A&M and in the local community.

She also volunteers her time to assist those at risk for suicide, for various local trash clean-up projects and other clean-up projects on Galveston Beach.  Manago is a founding member of One Aggieland, a group of social justice leaders, and was a member of the planning committee for Call Plus Response, an event that raised awareness of and provided practical ways to approach the issue of human trafficking.  She has served as a teaching assistant in the Sociology department for three years and has been conducting research on social cooperation under Dr. Jane Sell. In addition, she has completed internships with the Texas Transportation Institute and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Bianca impressed immediately – even the first day I met her,” one of her professors said in nominating her. “Later on, the students in the class were impressed, and began coming to my office asking me how they could be just like Bianca.” Another professor wrote “Bianca has stood out not only as the best student of her group, but also as one of the best students that I have had in my career.”

More information on the Brown-Rudder Award and other student recipients is available on the Texas A&M News & Information feed.

From Promise to Achievement