Honor Yourself

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Published on October 29, 2016

Here at HCC, there are a multitude of programs, clubs, and classes that students can sign up for in order to enrich their minds and bodies.  Most of these outlets are easily accessible, except for one.

The Honors Program here at school may be the most underutilized resource on campus, and it is completely free of charge.  You read it right, the HCC Honors Program is not Greek, and it costs zero dollars to join.   All you need to do is register for at least twelve credits per semester and maintain a GPA of 3.5.

HCC has a student population close to five thousand, and out of those, roughly five hundred meet the standard to be honors students.  Yet on average, only about twenty students every semester accept the invitation to participate in the program.  This well-deserved invitation comes from Professor Kirk Hughes, the director of the Honors Program here for the last five years.  Hughes and his style of teaching are a welcome breath of fresh air according to his students.  Juliet Chin, 21, is a math and science major in her last year at HCC, and also an honors student.  According to Chin, “Hughes lets students lead, which can expand our potential.”

As Hughes points out, “HCC is a place that provides clean slates.”  Just because a person was an average high school student, that does not mean they must continue the same pattern here at the home of new beginnings.  Hughes has witnessed some remarkable transformations here and student Emily Aquilino is a sparkling example of one.  Emily, 21, and a second year honors student at HCC, credits Professor Hughes directly for prompting the change within her.  “Before HCC, I was a flake and didn’t care about school.  I didn’t think I was smart enough to get good grades.  Hughes fanned the scholastic flame inside me, and now I am a Supplemental Instructional Leader who will be graduating next semester with the honors designation on my diploma.”

What benefits come from putting in extra work and completing the Honors Program?  Why should a student on the edge of qualifying make a bigger effort in order to join?  Is not earning the degree alone enough of a recognition and reward?  

A student does not even have to complete the program in order to reap some tangible benefits.  There are no penalties for not finishing the program, but there are rewards for the effort.  If a student completes just one class at the honors level, that capital letter “H” will be on their transcript for life.  A single “H” on a transcript can be the difference in being accepted at a transfer school or being awarded a scholarship.  

In order to complete the whole program, there are four requirements that must be fulfilled, and for the student’s convenience, they can be met in any order.  Two regular classes must be completed on the honors level, which means an extra project in each class during the semester.  Also the Honors Seminar, which is three credits, must be taken and graded with at least a “B”.  The Honors Seminar meets just once a week, but a seminar is much different than a class.  In a seminar, everyone in the room works together and talks about the best way to complete a task; a lecture it is not.  An independent study of the student’s choice carries the same responsibility of at least being graded with a “B,” and finally, some service to the community is required of the student.  No, HCC does not want you picking up trash off of the highway.  The community service part of the program allows students to be creative outside of the college.  Students are encouraged to volunteer their time in a way that positively contributes to the community we all live in.  

When all four hoops have been jumped through, a student literally leaves their mark on HCC forever, because their name is then engraved on a bronze plaque and displayed in the college library.  A certificate will be presented to the student at Awards Night, their name will be noted in the Commencement Program, and last but not least, a special notation will be made on the college transcript.  

Those are the benefits people can see, but the real gems are hidden out of sight.  Imagine that overnight, all the “A and B students” instantly became good friends with one another.  What kind of effect do you think it might have on them?  The possibilities are limitless, and from these students being suddenly thrust together, come the perks and privileges which can alter the direction of lives forever.  The Honors Program is a challenge, but its rewards cannot be found anywhere else.