Collaborative. Challenging. Community-based.
For junior Alyssa Sanchez, that’s the UNCG Lloyd International Honors College in a nutshell.
It’s rigorous, yes. For the pre-pharmacy biochemistry major who plans to graduate with full honors, it means additional coursework, an honors thesis and time spent studying abroad.
But it also means building new relationships, making lifelong friends and learning from distinguished professors.
“I chose Greensboro and the Honors College because I felt like I could create a home here,” Sanchez said. “The feeling of community and togetherness was something I was really seeking out. I wanted a collaborative environment instead of a competitive environment, and that’s exactly what I found at the Honors College.”
UNCG’s honors program dates back to 1945. Now, in its 11th year as a college, the Honors College boasts more than 900 students and offers two tracks: international honors and disciplinary honors.
International honors, which includes a stipend to study abroad, is designed for incoming freshmen. First-year students in the Honors College typically live in North and South Spencer Residence Halls and take an honors colloquium course that serves as an introduction to college life. Disciplinary honors, which requires an honors thesis project, is offered to current UNCG students with 40 credit hours and at least a 3.3 GPA. Students who complete both tracks graduate with full honors.
“We want to help students open themselves up to new ideas and experiences. I think we offer a diversity that is really attractive to students,” said Honors College Dean Omar Ali. “They are also drawn to the face-to-face contact that they get with our faculty.”
It’s those relationships with faculty that have shaped senior Katya Davis’ time in the Honors College. During Davis’ freshman year, Assistant Dean Rebecca Muich encouraged her to submit her paper to the annual Honors Symposium.
“She was so confident in me. I was shocked,” said Davis, an international and global studies major. “I submitted my paper, it was accepted, and I presented my work for the very first time. I think that presentation really helped shape who I am.”
Presentation and performance are integral to the Honors College curriculum. For Ali, what distinguishes the college is the way it uses play, improvisation and performance as tools for creating developmental learning environments. Throughout the coursework, students are encouraged to be more playful and see themselves as performers.
For example, Ali often invites his students to “perform interested” in class. He’ll ask them to nod their heads and pretend to – or actually – take notes during a lecture. When students pretend like they’re paying attention, they actually start to get interested in what the professor or fellow students are saying in class.
“That’s the magic,” he said.
Yet behind the innovative pedagogy, it’s the inspiring people – students, faculty and staff – who shape the Honors College experience for Spartans.
“The Honors College brought me closer to a diverse group of friends who are exceptionally talented, intelligent and passionate,” said junior Evan Bradner.
Sanchez couldn’t agree more.
“There are so many students who know your goals and what you want to achieve and will do anything to help you get there,” she said. “I’m just incredibly grateful.”
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications