Honors program challenges students to seek excellence

Raneem Hamad
Mesa Legend

Mesa Community College’s Honors program is one of the biggest in the Southwest region.  Brightening the pathway to many students, the honors program at MCC gives students increased chances in transfer acceptances and overall expansion of academic opportunity.  “I’ve always encouraged students to participate in the honors program because of the opportunities it brought to them,” said Shereen Lerner, director of the honors program. “Not only does it bring them opportunity, but gives them a chance to participate in a wide variety of research.” The program gives students the ability to learn and expand their knowledge in the research perspective.  There are hundreds of classes available at MCC for honors credits.

Students in the honors programs also take classes that give the opportunity of participating in many faculty research projects.  All honors students are required to do research in their final honors projects for each course they take. “When I first started at MCC, I decided to be a part of the honors program because I heard that for each honors class you take, you get a scholarship,” said honors student Andrew Finn, “but then I realized that the program is much more than just the scholarship it gives, it also looks really nice on my resume.” Honors students are eligible for a number of scholarships. Thousands of dollars in scholarships are given each semester to students who qualify.  “Admissions offices at universities often look at honors students as more excelling,” Lerner said.  “If I worked at the admissions office at Arizona State University, I’d definitely see the honors student as more prestige,” she added.

Students that are a part of the program are also given the opportunity to volunteer and do community service. For more than 40 years, the honors program at MCC has been recognized for its excellence.  Just recently the program went to the Western Regional Honors Conference at the University of Nevada. The conference was for two-year colleges and four-year universities, and MCC was able to take two students to represent the school. “The students had to prepare and present a paper at the conference,” Lerner said. “Not only did this represent MCC in a terrific way, but gave the students a chance to truly excel and learn a lot about themselves.” To qualify for the honors program students must have at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA.

“Having standards and general requirements makes the honors program what it is,” said Shannon White, an honors student. “I think that it challenges us as students to work harder so we could be a part of such an amazing program.”
Students must maintain the GPA as long as they are enrolled in the program. “The hard work and effort is truly worthwhile. It is all worth it in the future, the prestige and advantage given opens so many doors for students and generally leads the way,” said Lerner.  “I personally notice that honors students are usually more self-motivated, leaders in their groups and generally high academic achievers,” said Professor Erin Rawson, an honors teacher.
“The honors program brings so much opportunity and leadership to students,” she added.  Each student in the program must do an honors project for each class they take as an honor credit.

“Deciding on the honors project is a slightly difficult process,” said Rawson. “I talk to professors of honors-only sections and see what their coursework consists of and in addition, each department has standards for the honors projects,” she added. The honors final project is necessary to pass the course and get honors credits.  Each instructor gathers assignments for the honors program to help the students excel in each course. “Initially, the project goes with course context, but ultimately, the meaning is to get the honors students to do something above course level,” said Rawson. The honors program at MCC also provides honors-only classes that are designated for honors students.
These classes revolve around honors themes, giving students a greater challenge throughout the semester.
“The honors-only sections are much more consistent and convenient for the students. The class is shaped around the honors theme,” said Rawson.

Honors classes are smaller groups of students which gives way for more one-on-one academic support from instructors.  “The honors only courses are much more challenging and the instructors set the bar high because they know that we can do whatever we truly put our minds to,” said White. “Overall, the single aspect of the honors program which has motivated me the strongest while here at MCC would be their expectation for excellence.”
“Being a part of the honors program here at MCC has allowed me to explore deeper into many of my favorite subjects while simultaneously developing the proper skills it takes to succeed,” said Finn.  “Every student that has the chance to be a part of the honors program should, without second thought, take advantage of it.   “We try to broaden our students’ horizons and introduce them into doing things outside of their comfort zone,” Lerner added.
“Current honor students are opening themselves to things they never thought they would do.”

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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