Tag Archives: National Merit

Aggies Commit to Practicing Personal and Social Responsibility

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.

Victoria Easton '15, 2014 Udall Scholar
Victoria Easton ’15, 2014 Udall Scholar

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.

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Kaye and Steve Horn Host Honors Recruiting Reception

In the spirit of the season, Honors and Undergraduate Research would like to express our appreciation to Kaye and Steve Horn (Class of ’79) for graciously hosting a reception for prospective Texas A&M University Honors students at their home in River Oaks on November 2.

Left to Right: Steve Horn '79, Adelia Humme '15, Ryan Trantham '15, and Kaye Horn.
Left to Right: Steve Horn ’79, Adelia Humme ’15, Ryan Trantham ’15, and Kaye Horn.

Former Texas Governor John Connally’s historic mansion provided a stunning backdrop for the mingling of 16 National Merit Finalists and their parents and representatives of Texas A&M University. The many reminders of Steve’s success at Texas A&M, where he earned his degree in Petroleum Engineering before moving to Harvard to pursue an MBA, ranged from the jackets on the Horns’ pet dogs to photos of the President’s Endowed Scholars the Horns have supported over the years. Kaye’s passion for her adopted institution and in particular our history as a military college and the contribution of Aggies to the “greatest generation” was evident in her remarks to the assembled group. In a beautiful synergy, current Honors student Adelia Humme ’15 told the prospective students about her grandfather Hubert V. King, who left Texas A&M to fight in World War II and was presented with an Aggie ring upon his return at the end of the war engraved with the year that he would have graduated had he stayed in college (1944).

The prospective students were welcomed by Kaye and Steve Horn personally, as well as by staff from TAMU Admissions, Scholarships & Financial Aid, and Honors and Undergraduate Research. The prospective students also had a chance to meet Ryan Trantham ’15, the current Memorial Student Center President, and Adelia Humme, both members of the selective University Scholars Program. Ryan, Adelia, and the staff answered questions from the students and their parents about coursework, applications, scholarships, program requirements, the Honors dorms and study abroad opportunities in Italy, among other topics.

We at Honors and Undergraduate Research are thrilled that Kaye and Steve were willing to open their hearts and home to help us recruit top academic achievers to Texas A&M University and to the University Honors program in particular. We were proud to be able to introduce the Horns to Ryan and Adelia, outstanding student ambassadors who exemplify how the programs we run help develop promising high school students into accomplished young people. And we hope the prospective Aggies who attended the reception could see in Kaye and Steve, and in Adelia and Ryan, where they might be at the height of a successful career or as college seniors after a start in University Honors at Texas A&M!

Texas A&M Again Ranks in Top 10 for National Merit Scholars


2009 National Merit Scholars

Originally uploaded by Honors@TAMU

Texas A&M University ranks among the country’s top 10 institutions in enrollment of new National Merit Scholars, according to tabulations compiled from the newly released annual report of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Of these high-achieving students, 189 are members of the current freshman class.

The 27-student gain of National Merit Scholars in Texas A&M’s 2009 freshman class was the largest for any of the top 10 universities when compared to figures for the previous year. This analysis was conducted by the Honors Programs office at the university. Texas A&M placed 13th with 162 scholars in last year’s ranking.

“This is great news — and extremely gratifying coming right after the announcement last week that Texas A&M is included among the nation’s top 10 public universities in a ‘best value’ assessment by The Princeton Review and USA Today,” noted Texas A&M Interim President R. Bowen Loftin, who added “this is a great way to start off the new year.”

Honors Program Executive Director Edward Funkhouser concurred: “The increased number of new scholars is an affirmation of the enriching college experience offered here at Texas A&M and which we in our offices are pleased to coordinate. We are able to tell the Texas A&M story to many high-achieving students in Texas and across the United States, and many of them, in turn, strive to be part of that experience.”

Overall, the Texas A&M student body includes more than 550 National Merit Scholars, Funkhouser noted.

The new National Merit Scholar list is led, as has been the case for many years, by Harvard, with 266 scholars. Northwestern University placed second (246), followed by the University of Texas at Austin (245), Yale (234), University of Southern California (229), Washington University in St. Louis (223), University of Chicago (214), Princeton (196) and the University of Oklahoma (196).