Student Post: Why Honors?

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:

  1. “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.
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. “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!


The Foundational Interdisciplinary Sequences program and its benefits

Opportunities are what truly define one’s college experience. From joining clubs to studying abroad, Grand Valley State University students are presented with a plethora of opportunities to act upon. Students enrolled in the Frederik Meijer Honors College specifically are presented with an opportunity unavailable to any other students on campus. This opportunity is the Foundational Interdisciplinary Sequences program. Through this program, GVSU Honors college students are given the opportunity to take a year-long course covering a specific topic in extensive detail. Upon completion of this program, students are then allowed to use those credits and count them towards a majority of their General Education credits.

This course is usually taken during a student’s freshman or sophomore year at Grand Valley and can count towards up to seven of the required General Education credits. This includes up to one Issues course (two are required) and one Supplemental Writing Skills course (two are required).

The subject matter of the courses varies from American Civilization to the History of Science, all the way to Food for Thought, a course designed to examine food, from pre-cultivation all the way to its disposal.

The  Foundational Interdisciplinary Sequences program allows students in the Frederik Meijer Honors College the opportunity to utilize this year-long program and knock out a majority of their General Education credits. This is an advantage the rest of the student population is not afforded. Many students spend up to their senior year at GVSU enrolling in courses to fulfill their General Education Requirements. Through the Foundational Interdisciplinary Sequences program, GVSU Honors students are granted more time to explore courses within their major as well as other electives which may interest them.

GVSU Junior and Honors student, Sarah Bertus, had this to say about her experience: “[Foundational Interdisciplinary] Sequences has given me a lot of freedom in the classes I have taken since freshman year. Through fulfilling my credits strategically, my schedule was very open for me to dive into classes for my major. I liked this because it gave me the ability to confirm that my major was what I wanted to pursue. I know a lot of students take the basic General Education classes and don’t fully figure out what they want to study until their junior year.” Bertus was enrolled in the American Civilization Sequence. She is currently an Allied Health Sciences major pursuing a career as a physician’s assistant.

Find out more about the Foundational Interdisciplinary Sequences program here.

Student Post: Opportunities to Grow

As a freshman starting my first day of classes in the Honors College, I was a nervous wreck. Honestly, I was scared out of my mind and did not know what was expected of me.

Questions continually plagued me: What would the Honors College look like? What in the world is a sequence? Is it hard? Will I make friends?

With these questions swirling around my brain, I showed up at National Security, my honors sequence.

Within minutes of the class starting, I realized how absurd my fears were. All the students, or at least a majority of them, were new to the Honors College and were just as apprehensive as I was.

Our professor, Dr. Jonathan White, was incredibly caring. He welcomed us with open arms and assured us that he would always be there for us personally and academically, which made us feel special and treasured. To this day, I can still say with absolute certainty that he is my favorite professor and I feel comfortable going to him with anything.

We spent the semester learning the multiple facets of researching while also dedicating a few days to relaxation and downtime. Although it was nothing like I had thought it would be, I enjoyed it. I was able to bond with classmates, especially those who were in my final research group, and learn about something that I have an interest in.

The semester ended quickly with presentations given by groups of five to six students.  Each group had been given an assigned topic by Dr. Jon at the beginning of the semester, with my group presenting on the Chinese Navy. Although this may seem like a hard and difficult topic, it was enjoyable to research and fun to share with the class and Dr. Jon.

Coming back from winter break, my sequence started fresh with Dr. Jon and Dr. Kelly Clark, who taught us about human nature and the psychology of terrorism.

As we learned more about radical groups and what they believe in, Dr. Clark tasked the class to write a blog about everything we had learned so far in the semester.

Choosing a topic was hard. There were so many world events and people I wanted to write about but in the end I put my focus on the history of terrorism in Somalia. The world had just recovered from the November 2015 attacks in Paris and I decided that I wanted to try and open the eyes of people not only to the terrorist attacks that were occurring in the West but also the attacks in third-world countries.

Unbeknown to us, Dr. Clark planned on actually publishing some of our blogs in the Huffington Post.

After reading my blog on Somalia, Dr. Clark approached me and asked me to co-author another piece similar to mine on his Huffington Post Blog. I quickly agreed and we spent much of our free-time bouncing ideas off of each other and emailing multiple drafts back and forth.

After a week of hard work, Dr. Clark published our blog, “Je Suis Le Monde”. This blog depicts how human nature tends to see all Muslims as the enemy instead of fellow victims of terrorist attacks.

Being able to publish my thoughts and opinions about a topic I care about is an opportunity of a lifetime. Dr. Clark helped me to go out of my comfort zone by forcing me to openly declare my beliefs and this has helped me to grow as a person outside of the academic realm.

National Security was truly a blessing in disguise.

Although it required us to put in effort and time, this honors sequence forced us to grow. We were able to become comfortable with sharing our ideas without fear of consequences.

The Honors College may seem demanding and tasking at first, but it allows us to grow and to understand more of ourselves. Professors require us to dig deep and think outside of the box, which is different from many of my past experiences.

Today, I am glad to be able to say that I took a leap of faith and joined the Honors College. It has given me numerous opportunities I would not have received elsewhere and has allowed me to become a better person. I am truly honored to be a part of one of the best honors colleges in the United States.



Kilike Steyn is a sophomore in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University, pursuing a major in International Relations and minors in Arabic and French. She enjoys learning about world events and experiencing different cultures. Hailing from South Africa, Kilike loves all things American and can be seen around campus reading and listening to music. After she completes her undergraduate degree at Grand Valley, Kilike hopes to obtain her Masters and PhD in National Security and work for the United States government someday.


3 Upcoming Campus Events You Won’t Want to Miss

Are you looking for ways to get involved on campus or opportunities to grow? There are always lots of great events happening on campus throughout the semester. Here are three upcoming events that you won’t want to miss!

1. Leadership Summit

The Leadership Summit at GVSU is a state-wide premier leadership conference which strives to foster leadership development for undergraduate students, in multidisciplinary aspects of campus life. Featuring a dynamic keynote address, over 30 workshops to select from, a leadership case study competition sponsored by Omicron Delta Kappa, and more, Leadership Summit has something to offer students at every level of leadership!

As Honors Students, leadership is an important skill to develop, and this conference will help you to do just that. Leadership Summit will be held all day on Saturday, February 18, 2017, in the Kirkhof Center on the Allendale Campus. The cost is only $20 for GVSU students. Register now!

2. Student Scholars Day

Do you have a project that you’re proud of and want to share it with others? Then Student Scholars Day is just for you! Held once a year to celebrate the scholarship and creative work performed by GVSU students, the day showcases faculty-mentored work through oral presentations, discussion and panel sessions, fine arts exhibits and performances, and poster presentations.

This year’s Student Scholars Day will take place on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Student presentations begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m. in Henry Hall Atrium, Kirkhof Center, and the Mary Idema Pew Library. Registration is open February 6-24.


You’ve probably seen a few TED Talks throughout your academic years, but did you know that GVSU is hosting their own TEDx event featuring TED-like talks and videos? This year’s theme is “The Blueprints between X and Why.” The speakers will focus on the process, learning while doing, and how there are various and sometimes unknown paths to arrive at a destination (y).

The event will be held on Friday, February 24, 2017, at 5:30 pm in the Cook Dewitt Center. Unless you’ve already registered, tickets for the actual event are sold out, but you can attend a live stream in MIP Library Multipurpose Room (030). Check out the list of speakers!