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.
Jonathan Kotinek ‘99 serves as Associate Director for Honors and Undergraduate Research, where he has advised students since 2003. He holds both a B.A. and M.A. in English from Texas A&M University and earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 2013. His dissertation title was “A Narrative Examination of the Experience of Early Entrance to College.”
Kotinek was born in Colorado and grew up in Arlington and Grand Prairie, TX. As a student at South Grand Prairie High School, he was a three-year letterman in football, competed in UIL Literary Criticism, and participated in choir and theatre. Kotinek was not an Honors student while an undergraduate at Texas A&M, but he did take an Honors history course his first semester as a freshman. It was the only “A” he made that semester. He likes to use his poor decisions as learning opportunities for advisees.
Kotinek did not consider attending graduate school until encouraged to do so by Dr. Finnie Coleman. After taking an Introduction to African American Literature course with Dr. Coleman, he was convinced to pursue an M.A. in English. Coleman previously served as Associate Director for Honors Programs at Texas A&M.
While completing requirements for his master’s degree, Kotinek took “Issues in Child and Adolescent Development” with Dr. Joyce Juntune and was introduced to scholarly work on gifted education. Dr. Juntune encouraged Kotinek to pursue his doctorate.
Kotinek has been active with the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), serving as a member of the Board of Directors from 2011-2014, and as co-chair for the Diversity Issues Committee since 2006. Kotinek was co-editor of the monograph Setting the Table for Diversity with Dr. Lisa Coleman (Southeast Oklahoma State University) and authored a paper in that book entitled “Passing for Black: White Privilege and Black Identity Formation.” He is working with Dr. Lisa Coleman and Dr. Alan Oda (Azusa Pacific University) to co-edit a second monograph on diversity titled Occupy Honors Education.
Outside of work, Kotinek is an active member of the St. Silouan the Athonite Orthodox Church parish, established the Aggieland Beard & Moustache Club (now known as the Brazos Valley Whisker Club), and is an avid runner. He spends his time with his family, pictured below.
It is sometimes difficult to convey the impact that the additional challenge and enrichment offered through Honors and Undergraduate Research has for the students, faculty, and staff that make up our community. In part, this is because these experiences impact each person differently, and each person then goes on to change the world in her or his own way.
We have used this news blog to help share these rich stories, and look forward to continuing to do so. Please help us out by sharing these stories with others, and let us know when we can help tell your story!
Blog Highlights for 2014
This year, our news blog was recognized in the National Collegiate Honors Council newsletter contest with a second place prize!
WordPress has generated a summary of our most-widely seen posts over the last year. Here’s an excerpt from the 2014 year in review:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
In August, HUR’s Cecilia Morales was announced as a 2013 National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Portz Scholar. The NCHC Portz Scholars Program began in 1990 to enable NCHC to acknowledge John and Edythe Portz’s many contributions to honors education. The NCHC continues to honor their memory by selecting the top research/creative papers by undergraduate honors students who have been nominated by their institutions for their outstanding work.
Cecilia Morales, a senior English student at Texas A&M University, was nominated by Honors Director Dr. Sumana Datta. Morales wrote a research paper entitled “Creating Mother: Mother’s Legacies in the Context of the Conduct of Literature of Seventeenth-Century England,” which had already been selected for the Best Thesis Award at Texas A&M. Each collegiate Honors department in the country is allowed to submit only one thesis to nominate its author for the Portz Scholarship (The University of Nevada at Reno and The University of Arkansas at Little Rock were also awarded with Portz Scholars).
In Morales’s words:
“This paper examines the genre of 17th-century Mothers’ Legacies in relation to the conduct literature written during the same period. It discusses the manner in which the women writers of Mothers’ Legacies both confirm and deny the ideal form of womanhood laid out by conduct writers. By writing from the place of the mother, these women were fulfilling a socially prescribed role, but by publishing for a wide audience, they stepped out of their traditional domestic domain. The paper ends by delineating and explaining the gap between what 17th-century women were told to do and what they actually did.”
The three NCHC Portz Scholars will present their papers at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in New Orleans on Saturday, November 9th. Morales is excited to meet other undergraduate researchers from around the country, as well as to present her own research. She said, “I am extremely honored to receive this award and to have the opportunity to represent A&M at such a prestigious conference. I put a lot of time and energy into my research project, so it’s quite gratifying to have it recognized nationally.”
Post-undergrad, Morales plans to attend graduate school in order to receive a PhD in literature and hopes to become an English professor. She is grateful for the research experience she gained at Texas A&M because it will help her further down the road in her career pursuits.
Morales’s advice to her fellow students was to pursue undergraduate research, even if you do not plan on attending graduate school. She said it is “a great opportunity to make the most out of your college education.”
Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) would like to congratulate Cecilia Morales on becoming a Portz Scholar. We wish her luck at the NHCH conference in November! HUR is so proud of its students for the positive impact they make at Texas A&M University.