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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) dlivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Honors students at TAMU

Dr.+Daniel+Tarvin+professor+of+an+Intercultural+Communications+class+fosters+a+discussion+style+environment+for+his+honor+students.
Photo by Photo by Hanna Hausman

Dr. Daniel Tarvin professor of an Intercultural Communications class fosters a discussion style environment for his honor students.

Honors programs present the opportunity for participating students to have a more comprehensive collegiate experience.
A&M offers students the option of taking part in the University Honors Program, in major and department specific honors programs, or both.
According to Duncan MacKenzie, associate professor of biology and director of the Honors in Biology Program, The University Honors Program has requirements for freshmen housing in honors-specific dorms, and students take honors courses in a variety of subjects. Specialized honors programs only require honors coursework completed in the particular major.
MacKenzie has worked at A&M for thirty-four years. The options for students were different when he first began his employment here. This is only the second year that an honors program specifically built for biology students has existed.
“Biology is different, in that our program focuses on an honors experience that’s just within the biology department,” MacKenzie said. “We have courses taught as honors, almost all of which are biology courses. We’re trying to focus our students more on specific courses.”
MacKenzie said University Honors focuses holistically on creating a positive learning environment for honors students, while major specific programs are centered around a specific career field.
The University Honors Program gives students some flexibility on the kind of capstone experience they want to choose,” MacKenzie said. “They can choose to do a service experience, a teaching experience, or a research experience. Biology honors is focused exclusively on a research experience.”
MacKenzie said based on SAT requirements, students can apply to the program as incoming freshmen, or in their first two years of college if their GPA is above 3.5. Because it’s so new, they are interested in assessing the program’s retention rates after a few more years have passed.
MacKenzie said the responsibilities for taking honors courses are greater than regular courses, but the learning experience is deeper.
“There’s more of an expectation that students will be involved in discussions, that they’ll do more reading, and there’s a lot more interaction between the students and faculty,” Mackenzie said. “We’re expecting that students get more hands-on experience in these courses. There’s more of an in-depth commitment to participating in Biology honors sections of courses compared to regular sections.”
Member of the Department of Communication’s honors faculty Tasha Dubriwny teaches courses embedded with both honors and non-honors students. One of Dubriwny’s honors students was highly interested in the intersection between religion and rhetoric. No courses were offered that highlighted this specific topic, but Dubriwny was able to create curriculum for an independent study that contributes to her student’s honors requirements.
“I think people often hesitate to enroll in honors courses, because they think it’s just going to be harder,” Dubriwny said. “But that’s not what we’re doing in honors. In the courses that I’ve taught, I bring in guest speakers, and you end up having a whole new layer added to your education.”
2017 graduate Paul Shaunessy participated in both University Honors and Petroleum Honors for the entirety of his college experience. Shaunessy said his favorite aspect of being an honors student was the increased interaction he had with his professors, but he has witnessed his non-honors peers also have success in the professional world.
“Most of my friends weren’t in honors,” Shaunessy said. “Leaving college, I don’t think it affected any of us getting jobs, with or without honors. But for me, honors was nice coming from a small high school. I was used to much more personal contact with my teachers there.”
General engineering freshman Jarrah Schlothsberg said she applied to be a part of honors for the additional academic challenge. She said the application process involved additional essays and recommendation letters from her high school teachers.
“It motivates you, because you see others striving towards their grades,” Schlothsberg said. “Having A&M associated with your degree already affects your career so much, but having honors just puts you above everyone else. It shows that you were committed to your learning, and that you’ll be invested in whoever you work for.”

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