Two students and three faculty members from Fairmont State University’s Honors Program attended the National Collegiate Honors Council’s annual meeting in November in New Orleans. Angelica E. Starcovic and Cam’Ron D. Allen joined Drs. Robin K. Smith, Nathan C. Myers, and J. Robert Baker in listening to students and faculty from around the United States and the Netherlands present ideas and information about the best practices in Honors education.
The theme of the conference, Disrupting Education, explored solutions Honors Programs might offer to the loss of creativity and innovation in higher education. Participants were asked “to disrupt and eschew the routine and seek creative means to challenge ourselves, our peers, and our students, thus allowing ourselves and others the flexibility and creativity to move into the future: an inclusive, just, peaceful, and creative global world.”
“Attending the NCHC meeting in November was especially helpful for me in beginning to learn more about the ways in which honors programs function at other institutions as I prepare to move into a leadership position within our own program here at Fairmont State University,” Robin Payne, Associate Professor of History, who was recently named Associate Director of the Honors Program said. “Moreover, it was exhilarating to see our own Honors students explore New Orleans and participate in the conference proceedings. I was proud of how well they represented our institution!”
Payne is slated to become Director of the Program next June.
Myers, an Associate Professor of English, said the NCHC conference provides the perfect opportunity every fall for students and faculty from Honors programs across the country to connect with, challenge, and learn from one another, bringing back new ideas to grow and develop their own programs at home.
“This year, topics ranging from incorporating sustainability practices in an Honors program to using hip hop music as a means to teach meaningful articulation and build community, provided an eclectic mix of avenues to explore during panel discussions and presentations,” he said. “The energy among the student participants is often palpable, as they are surrounded by other students from around the country who are similarly focused on their education and hope to make a viable impact in the world.”
Starcovic, a senior from Cameron, WV, serves as president of the Honors Association, the student organization that supports the Honors Program. She is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Art.
“Attending the 2019 NCHC Conference in New Orleans was an enriching experience academically and personally. Academically, I was able to explore different perspectives around the honors pedagogy from different universities across the country to bring back to Fairmont State,” she said. “Personally, I added to my own global literacy by having the opportunity to explore the city of New Orleans and gain experiences outside my routine narrative. Overall, the trip was fruitful for myself and my fellow travelers.”
Allen is a junior from Martinsburg majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Forensic Investigative Science. He serves as vice president of the Honors Association.
“As a student and representative of our Honors Program, I couldn’t have had a more eye-opening experience. I was humbled by the opportunity to grow around some of the best professionals in the nations and give those experiences back to our students back home,” he said.
Allen was nominated by Baker to participate in the Student Fishbowl, a tradition of the NCHC conferences that brings together students from different honors programs and colleges to talk about their experience in honors. These students sit in a circle in the center of the room, facing each other, with a larger group of faculty, staff and other students seated around them.
“I could truly feel the energy radiating off of the other students at the event. It exemplified the ideas and spirit of our national honors community, and taught me how to capture them a bottle and take it to our program,” Allen said.
“Students offered their various perspectives on the topics ranging from the structure of their programs and how their education has benefited from their participation, to improvements they would like to see in the future,” Myers said. “ Cam’Ron deftly articulated his own viewpoints on his role as Vice President of Fairmont State’s Honors Program, and his goal to have students approach their education holistically, seeing experiences outside the classroom as integral to their overarching growth as scholars and citizens of the world.”
Founded in 1966, the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) is a unique educational organization designed to support and promote undergraduate honors education. NCHC has nearly 900 member institutions and several hundred individual members, impacting over 330,000 honors students. NCHC provides its members with resources, training opportunities and collaborative events to build and sustain honors programs and their curriculum. Students also have access to honors scholarships and exclusive events through NCHC and its members.
Fairmont State began offering Honors classes in the spring of 1988. The Honors Program serves students across the disciplines at Fairmont State, encouraging them to deepen their engagement with their education and their commitment to the life of thee mind.