The bus is filled with noisy chatter, friends are discussing favorite movies and books and the occasional song is sung—memories are being made.
This is what Graham Gardner, freshman math major and member of the Honors Community, said he wishes others could see. To give people the best idea of who these students are and what they love, he recommended taking a glimpse into their bus rides.
Recently, many of the students loaded up one of these buses and visited Baylor University in Waco, Texas where they presented at an academic conference.
Amy Knack, freshman teaching English as a second language and Spanish major, said her group presented on the topic of faith and film.
“We ended up doing our presentation about Christian themes within The Dark Knight Rises and were one of the four groups selected to go present,” she said.
While the conference had much opportunity to learn and share information, Knack said her favorite part was “getting to know [her] classmates outside of class and building new relationships.”
The Honors Community is not only for academic growth, but also for personal growth, Knack said.
“We have a lot of common ground,” she said. “We’ve read the same books and had a lot of shared experiences—we have this bond between all of us. Maybe we’re not exactly like a family, but we are something like one.”
Scott Huelin, professor of English and director of the Honors Community, said he feels inspired to lead his students.
“I came to faith in Christ while a college freshman, so I care deeply about helping bright students integrate faith and intellect,” he said.
Huelin said the greatest challenge he faces is “keeping up with such bright and motivated students,” while the students said the greatest challenge is all of the reading.
“I can describe a week in the Honors wisdom course in one word: reading. Lots and lots of reading,” Gardner said. “The courses are built on reading, discussing and writing. We will read portions of a work before each class and then discuss it in small groups, usually having a big lecture on it at some point during the week. After we are finished with an entire book or two, we will be assigned a paper that will help us sum up the meaning behind the work(s). It’s exhausting, but rewarding.”
The Honors Community has common ground in academics, but students are quick to say that that’s not the only bond they share.
“The Honors program is about personal growth, really,” said Luke Brake, sophomore English major and president of the Honors Student Association. “One definite thing that I think people need to know is that even though we are Honors, it shouldn’t be academically intimidating in that a lot of the growth is based on willingness to learn rather than high academics. It’s about growing on a personal level and learning about oneself.”
To graduate with general honors, a student must take three of the four courses offered: Wisdom, Beauty, Justice and Creation.