Honors students off to cool adventures

It’s thought that only through challenges can you become stronger. The Honors Program has empowered students to be flexible and creative, step outside of their comfort zone and develop and grow their abilities and interests beyond Heidelberg.

Through seminars, extra-curricular activities and collaboration with faculty members on coursework and research, Honors students are demonstrating their learned knowledge and skills with placement in prestigious grad schools, study abroad, service and internships.

“I’m extremely proud of our students and extremely proud of the faculty who support them with these opportunities,” said Dr. Emily Isaacson, English professor and director of the Honors Program. “It’s one of the things we do really well.”

As senior Honors students get ready to present their capstone projects next week, we asked them, along with underclass Honors students, about the role the program has played in their academic success and professional preparation. Here is a sampling of their responses, along with the places they’re heading for the summer and after graduation:

Robert Atha (Class of ’19)

This summer, Robert will be working for Teach For America as an operations associate in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He will serve as an official assistant to the staff that trains and mentors teachers from around the country so that they can accurately address the issues of education inequity facing the United States. In the fall, he has accepted a yearlong with AmeriCorps City Year in inner-city Cleveland. He’ll be working as a tutor and mentor to at-risk students, addressing the problems of unequal and inequitable education at the very source.

“The Honors Program has prepared me for these positions through its ever-present focus on the life of the mind and serving the community. Through this program, I was able to find my own life of the mind, education, and find positions that allow me to make a real difference in communities across the United States. The passion inserted into each and every honors seminar has moved me to chase my ambitions, and for that I am very grateful.”

Allison Blythe (Class of ’20)

Allison has landed an internship at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. Her supervisor will be ’Berg alum Brandi Oswald, and she will be working in the cartographic division. She will also shadow Brandi in the reference room.

“My participation in the Honors Program laid the groundwork in three ways. The big, glaring one is that I have been volunteering at the Seneca County Museum, starting last fall, when I took my Service Learning class. The flexibility of service learning and civic engagement requirement both pushed me to be involved in the Tiffin community through service as well as getting to do so in a way that would benefit my future career, as I get experience in the field of public history. The second way is through Dr. Isaacson herself. She, along with a few other professors, have really pushed me academically and personally to grow in the past two years. The third reason is the way the general education requirements for the program allowed me to take classes geared toward my future without having to worry as much about meeting specific class requirements. Because of the flexibility of my scheduling, I’ve gotten to take my historical research methods class (which is where I figured out that I wanted to be an archivist), was able to take two of the Google classes, and still have time for the literature and economics courses I’ve taken for fun.”

Brianna Casement (Class of ’20)

Bri will be traveling to Gamboa, Panama, this summer to intern with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. There, she will be working on a project titled “The Genomic Basis if Adaptation to Climate Change: A Large-Scale Transplant Experiment in the Panama Canal.” The scientists will study anole lizards and how they adapt to anthropogenic climate change.

“The Honors Program has helped me prepare by getting me ahead in my classes. Without having to take standard general education courses, I was able to get a lot of my classes out of the way and only take my major classes.” 

Melanie Cohn (Class of ’19)

Following graduation, Mel will enroll in the Ph.D. program in marine sciences at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she will be doing molecular studies of marine microbe to create biosensors and evaluate their role in the global carbon cycle.

“The Synthesis project my freshman year helped me consider how to put scientific ideas into context in order to communicate tough ideas to a general audience. Dr. Collar was instrumental in reminding us that even though we were becoming specialized, considering other people’s backgrounds and mindsets is important in all of our disciplines.”

Kristina Confesor (Class of ’20)

Kristina will be participating in a Research Experience for Undergraduates at Old Dominion University with the Department of Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences. She’ll be conducting research into the topics of coastal resiliency and climate adaptation

“My participation in the Honors Program laid the groundwork and prepared me for this experience by giving me the confidence and resources to find my passion in the research field. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams, and having the support of the Honors Program helps with obtaining the skills needed to make those dreams a reality.”

Kelsey Grove (Class of ’20)

Kelsey is headed to Agnes Scott College in Atlanta to take a 10-week Machine Learning Intensive course with Google. She will be working with Google engineers to understanding different machine learning models. She will complete several projects which she will present at a project fair with potential employers. The class also focuses on building professional skills and interview skills.

“The Honors Program and the skills I have gained have definitely prepared me for this experience. The seminars I have completed are thought-provoking and require us to be able to process information so that we can form an opinion and discuss or present it to the class. I will be working with students from across the country whom I’ve never met and because the class is project-based, I will need to be able to process and discuss my opinions.”

Hannah Petitti (Class of ’20)

This summer, Hannah has landed an internship with the U.S. Senate, working with constituents on current issues.

“My participation in the Honors Program has laid the groundwork for me to think outside the box when it comes to problem solving. I think that the variety of courses I've taken as an Honors student has allowed me to know how to solve problems even when I am not an expert on that issue/topic/field. Though I've learned how to think like a Social Science student from my studies in my major, I've also learned how to think like a negotiator, literary critic and philosopher. In my opinion, having this well-rounded knowledge helps me consider more thought-out solutions which is an invaluable skill for me going forward as a citizen and for my future career.”

Kiera Malone (Class of ’19)

Kiera is moving to Vermont, where she will start work on her Ph.D. in the cellular, molecular and biomedical sciences program at the University of Vermont.

“Throughout the past four years, the Honors Program has given me the flexibility and creativity to pursue the various things that I love. If done well, it can be tailored to fit an individual in a way that best suits them, and that is what it did for me. Moreover, the Honors House has saved my life on so many occasions. It is the perfect place to camp out for a night or for an afternoon to get everything done. I’ve written lab reports, practiced presentations and submitted my grad school apps in various places throughout that house.”

Ashley Mermolia (Class of ’20)

Ashley has an internship with Athletico Physical Therapy in southeastern Wisconsin this summer. She’ll be working as a PT aide and will be going to five different clinics to assist in the rehabilitation process with patients.

“The Honors Program has prepared me for this experience because it helped me to think outside the box. If something doesn’t work or isn’t working, I have to find a new way to solve the problem, even though it may not follow the conventional path most people take. This allows me to separate myself and prove my skills and knowledge.”

Raffaela Mueller (Class of ’19)

Raffaela is moving to London in September and will enroll at King’s College in the Genes, Environment and Development in Psychology and Psychiatry Master of Science program.

“The Honors Program provided me with an interdisciplinary approach to learning that I would not have had access to otherwise. Interdisciplinary learning has always been extremely important to me. Seeing the intersections between different subjects leads to fascinating discoveries and very unique learning experiences.”

Abigail Reed (Class of ’19)

Abby has been accepted into the Peace Corps. She will be relocating to Cambodia on July 11 for 27 months of service. In Cambodia, she will be a primary and secondary English teachers.

“The Honors Program offered a variety of classes outside of my major that were all focused on free-thinking. In the Service Learning and Civic Engagement class specifically, I was able to further explore the concept of volunteerism and its effect on communities. One of the biggest takeaways I received was to give people the tools to help themselves rather than being the “save all, be all” who leaves after a period of time. This idea is something the Peace Corps excels at. While in the program I will be teaching young minds the English language and giving them other tools to help themselves after I leave.”

Kevin Scrudders (Class of ’19)

Kevin has accepted a position at Purdue University’s chemistry Ph.D. program with an interest in biological chemistry.

“The Honors Program has allowed me to explore how science interfaces with non-science aspects of life. This has occurred in all my Honors seminars. For example, in my scientist seminar, Plagues in History, we studied the great plagues in humanity’s past. During this class, I was exposed to the science of plagues but also the human elements of disease. Stories about the black plague killing nearly 1 in 3 people in Europe reinforces why I want to better understand how humans interact with the world so that we never have to ineffectively stand by large fires or wear masks with herbs in them to attempt to prevent the spread of plague again. As I move into graduate school, I will be focusing on scientific research, but having exposure to how science touches other aspects of life will help me stay grounded.”

Amanda Sugrue (Class of ’20)

Amanda has been selected for a 10-week internship, “Introduction to Cancer Research, at the National Institutes of Health Urological Cancer Research Branch. She’ll receive training in basic cancer research techniques.

“The Honors Program has taught me how to work well with others, which will be useful in my internship this summer. I will have the ability to share my ideas and also learn from other people. The Honors Program has really prepared me to learn from other people’s ideas, but also how to express my own in a group. I think this will be very useful for this summer as all of the work I will be doing will be collaborative.”


Published in Outcomes, Student Life, Travel

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