As student assistants in the Honors Office, my coworkers and I experience a different side of the college than most, through seeing the many facets of the people who make up Honors. I have worked as a student assistant at the Honors College Office for a little over a year now, and the experience has undoubtedly made me a more confident and competent person.
We regularly get calls from parents and high school students asking us “Why Honors?” This is a question that, when I started working as a freshman, was difficult to answer. Now, when parents need reassurance that Honors is a good place for their child, I can speak from experience.
Honors offers a caring environment of support and opportunity that changes how students think about the learning process and the college experience. Here are some phrases that, as students get more comfortable in Honors, we start to hear much less:
- “I don’t know how to do that.” As Honors students, we have resources beyond what I ever would have imagined. This starts with the people who shape Honors – faculty, advisors, Dr. J, and Robyn – who daily bend over backward for students. They give students the tools needed to learn new skills and have eye-opening experiences. There is so much support given to students by people behind the scenes. Honors students replace the words “I don’t know how” with “I’ll learn how.” This change in approach makes all the difference, setting Honors students apart as leaders in their own education and success.
- “That professor doesn’t have time for me.” My freshman year, I was intimidated by professors. They are professional, intelligent, and busy! I needed to work out an issue and advocate for our class, but I was terrified of what would happen if I offended a professor, or even took up too much of their time. My experience in Honors, working with and for the professors, has shown me a different side of them. In the classroom, the professors are all business, but I have the privilege to see their humor, successes, and frustrations. (We also get to meet their kids, who are absolutely adorable!) I see professors in the Honors office who want nothing more than to support their students, taking the time to learn names, backstories, and dreams. It really is inspiring to see an entire college that takes such an intentionally student-centered approach to education.
- “I don’t have time for that.” Honors students take on a lot. Some might think we commit to too much! But I have seen students with such drive, passion, and commitment to their work that inspire me to do more. There are students researching cures for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, mentoring the incoming classes, and volunteering in Ghana, Haiti, Nicaragua, and more. They are starting businesses, innovating, and creating the products and ideas of the future. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what Honors does: inspiring students to take the time to make a difference.
- “I’m not confident enough” Many people find that seeing their own success builds their confidence. If you don’t give the opportunity a shot, how can you ever succeed? The frankly terrifying experiences of preparing for the Honors Recognition Ceremony, keeping track of the information for almost 500 incoming freshmen, and even participating as a full-fledged member of the committee to hire the new Honors advisors helped me build my own confidence. One Honors professor told my freshman class, “…just say yes.” This is so important! When an opportunity arises, just say yes. I see so many Honors students “say yes” every day to the multitudes of opportunities offered to them, and their successes keep building.
Julia is a sophomore at GVSU studying nursing. She works as a student assistant in the Honors College office and enjoys helping faculty, staff, and students. In her free time she enjoys fitness classes and copious amounts of coffee with friends. Julia is looking forward to working in Honors this summer and two more years at Grand Valley!