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The Life of an Honors Student: Current Student Perspectives for Prospective Students

This I Believe Is Honors

Honors friends gathering in front of Wheeler, enjoying Color Wars

Welcome! We, the students, LOVE our program and want to tell you all about it. Here is the technical, professional definition of honors: Honors at Longwood is a community of scholars that strive to embody our pillars of scholarship, service, and community.Luckily for you, there is so much more to it than that. Honors immediately provides you with a group of friends during our orientation retreat, opportunities to enhance your experience at Longwood abound academically and socially, and you always have a home at Wheeler.

 Academically, the honors courses available to you will likely be some of your favorite classes during your time here, regardless of their relation to your major. One of the advantages to our program is that academics could be all you do with our program, perhaps you have other dreams to fulfill when at college such as participating in Greek life or playing on a team. We have students that do both and students that are so involved they must choose one organization to give all their time to, but we know and accept them all because honors is truly what you make of it. For those of you that  intend to become heavily involved in honors, there is plenty available for you to participate in. There are conferences, retreats, WHIM events, study abroad trips, and more that are a consistent aspect of our program.

In my experiences, however, there is more than that. There is dinner at 5 in the dining hall with a large group of honors students, there is a familiar face in my classes, and there are professors that I will get to know on trips or through honors events. During my freshman year here, we had to read a book titled This I Believe, a compilation of essays submitted to NPR documenting beliefs that people hold on life, love, childhood, etc. This is my belief: Honors at Longwood has the ability to be life-changing, to give you an environment in which to grow as an individual and in your career, and will provide you with many opportunities and friends. So please browse through our blog site to see what students like me have to tell you about our wonderful program, how it has affected them, and what it can do for you!

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Honors Requirements

  • Complete 8 honors courses before graduation
    • Three must be 300 level or above
    • Multiple honors courses can be taken simultaneously
    • Honors English 400 and Honors Longwood Seminar are required
      • Honors 202 may be substituted for Honors Longwood Seminar for students entering the Honors College after the first semester
  • Make good progress by completing a course at least every other semester
  • Maintain a 3.25 GPA in honors coursework
  • Maintain a 3.25 GPA overall
  • Complete a study abroad experience of at least 2-weeks’ duration
  • Complete a junior/senior-level mentored project
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A crazy weekend with the Honors College: April 5-7 2013

The life of a college student, though it varies, is generally a busy one. Due to participation in multiple organization, weekends can fill up fast from hanging out with friends, volunteering, or attending certain events. Sometimes, they fill up due to one particular organization, giving you plenty of opportunities to have fun and participate in multiple events with the same people you already love. During one weekend, Honors College students were participating in three different activities.

Activity #1: SRHC (Southern Regional Honors Conference)

The Southern Regional Honors Conference is a research conference where students go to present their research in either an oral presentation or a poster session. This year, three students and one faculty member attended the conference in Louisville, Kentucky. This conference allowed us time to explore the city, learn more about how bats are made, and experience presenting research.

Activity #2: Seminar for Civic Leadership in the Honors College

Students, faculty, staff, and community members attended this seminar to discuss the difference between a citizen scholar and a citizen leader and how each applies to Longwood University. A school with many opportunities available to students, the seminar discussed what possibilities could be offered in this aspect of the college experience. There were a few potential requirements for Honors College students discussed to expand the definition of Honors, including service, projects within the community, and education on service. According to freshman Carson Reeher, the experience was fun as it enabled her “to meet the Cormier and Honors professors, a unique opportunity for a freshman.”

Activity #3: Distinguished HSA Member Retreat

A group of students that earned a certain amount of points in the Honors Student Association by attending a certain amount of events, tabling, and community service projects traveled to Richmond for the day. While there, students went to a diversity fair at VCU, ate at the Village Cafe, and went to see a Beatles tribute band called 1964 at the Carpenter Theater. According to junior Jamie Leeuwrik, the trip brought the Beatles to life for her and she “love the Beatles, it was like seeing the real concert because they were in character the whole time, even calling each other by their  Beatles names.” It was worth the effort everyone put into making their points to be able to go on the trip and have fun in a new location, make some memories, and hear “the Beatles”.


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Reason #4

Ever get tired of sitting around in the same town weekend after weekend? Want to go help others with friends? Well, at the Honors College we give students that opportunity every semester with the Service Retreat. We go up to Hull Springs Farm,  a Longwood owned property, and do community service work in the surrounding area. This semester we did a lot of gardening work, it was a lovely day outside and we had the chance to help three different groups of people with our superb gardening skills.

We went to a thrift store and half of us performed some chores while some of us trimmed, raked, weeded, and mulched outside. Next we traveled to a local church raked and trimmed plants, leaving their yard looking well manicured. Last we visited the home of a widow, did some raking, replanting, and trimming. After all of the service that we completed and the community that we impacted, we were able to go back to the farm and kayak or relax on the beautiful waterside property.

Later that night we had a campfire, roasted some marshmallows,  made some s’mores, ate a lot of great food, and had an awesome time together.

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Reason #3 Why YOU Should Join the Honors College!

SPRING BREAK. To a college student, this week is beautiful, rejuvenating, wonderful, and more. There are many things that one can do during spring break, from simply relaxing at home to taking a trip with friends. One student named Charlie Vancampen, took a different route and traveled to a tropical paradise with the help of the Honors College. This is his story:

With the assistance of the Honors College, I attended an alternative spring break trip in the Dominican Republic organized through Longwood University. Don’t let the words ‘spring break’ and ‘paradise’ mislead you, this was not a prototypical spring break trip. While fun, we didn’t spend our time frolicking on the white sandy beach and splashing around in the crystal blue water. Instead we spent our time immersed in a week-long cultural experience. When we first arrived, we met with our trip leader from the New Community Project, who told us about expectations for the trip and some things we would be seeing. However, that could not fully prepare us for the experiences we would  have over that week and things we observed.  About noon the next day, we board a guagua (public bus) and headed out to a small village called La Guama outside a city called El Cercado.

Once there, we met with our host families and were acquainted with our living situation for the next three days. We were living in a village where electricity was intermittent, only one house had indoor plumbing (which did not work), and virtually no economy. The locals grew plants and raised animals to feed themselves; evident by the zoo that our family kept by their house.  Even though that was no hot water, fancy electronics, or any material considers necessary for a high quality of life in American society. However, these were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met.  While there, we were wooed with our host mom’s empanadas, played a perilous game of baseball on a road lined with barbed wire, and helped with a sustainable agricultural project behind the mountains. One of the more striking experiences of this portion of this trip was an excursion to the Haitian border and spent some time there to observe differences in the levels of poverty between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The differences in poverty in the 200 yards between Haiti and the DR it is easy to see why Haitians would cross into the DR, allowing themselves to be transported illegally in search of a better life.  After three days living among these vibrant people, we had a closing dance where we were forced to marangue with the locals. We boarded another guagua and headed to the bateys in the eastern part of the country.

This part of the trip was the most powerful and moving experience we had. The first day in the bateys we spent travelling to them and then we worked for about a half hour in the sugar fields and toured the bateys. Bateys are a mixture of publicly and privately owned slums operated by sugar companies that produce sugar that is almost solely sold to the United States. In the bateys we learned how the sugar companies mistreat and cheat the workers who are mostly Haitians who are illegally smuggled across the border by the sugar companies and because they have no legal rights are kept in the bateys with no chances of getting out. Some of the bateys literally have no running water and a couple have no latrines. It is not unusual for 8-12 people to live in a single room built for one or two people. The companies have not kept their promises to maintain the barricks or homes on the bateys, which have deteriorated greatly in the past 50 years. We learned that the DR government has also retroactively stripped the citizenship of Haitians who were born in the DR, have never been to Haiti, and don’t speak creole all because their parents were Haitian.  The first night we were there we heard a presentation from a lawyer     for a newly formed sugar cane workers union, speaking about the grave human injustices and what can only be described as modern day slaves.  Even though there are people who are trying     to fix the situation and get these Dominicans their citizenship back, they face an uphill battle. The following day, we toured more bateys, in worse conditions than the ones we had seen before. We also encountered sugar cane workers that did not have the machines to do their jobs that the workers from the previous day had. This day we also stopped and went into a local school in one of the bateys and danced and sang for some local school children and briefly spoke with them on our way to our nights stay.

That night we stayed in a batey which was one of the better bateys we saw, however, it was by no means acceptable living conditions. While we slept in a chapel on hard benches or a concrete floor, the locals slept in their homes which if in America would be immediately condemned. While there, we had lunch with them, played baseball, swam in a river, and had campfire where we distributed donated school supplies. The following day we left and saw the dire needs of the people as they mobbed what was left of our donations. I felt kind of guilty because while these people were stuck in this situation, we left for a beach side resort, the DR that most people see. We spent the day unwinding, getting massages on the beach, swimming in the Caribbean Sea, and buying touristy items. While this was nice, I now know that the DR that we think of is not the environment that most people live in.

Don’t get me wrong, the Dominicans are the most welcoming people I have ever met. I have traveled to Ukraine, Spain, and Morocco, which were all said to be the most hospitable country in the world but the DR is the first country I truly felt welcome in. Even though the living conditions are poor for a lot of residents, they show great resilience in the fact that they are happier than we are. It was rare to meet someone complaining about their living conditions and most when describing their situation said that God is great, they were happy that we visited them, and they were grateful for their family. Now that we are back, we are trying to form a movement or organization to help the Haitian sugar cane workers in the DR. Through raising money, we can help these people with their citizenship, fund protests, and do other things that can help make their lives better. Without the help of the Honors College and the scholarship I received, I probably would not have been able to go. This is not the first time that the Honors College has helped me travel, but I am always grateful for the opportunity and the chance to have life altering experiences such as this one.

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Reason #2 Why YOU Should Join the Honors College!

We found a lot of interesting items around Goose Creek including a shopping cart, chair, pregnancy test, passive-aggressive notes in the parking lot, etc.

The Cormier Honors College loves the idea of service, it is even a pillar of the program along with community and scholarship. It isn’t just the Dean or a part of the student handbook though, a majority of the students really do enjoy volunteering. There are a variety of programs and organizations that the Honors Student Association helps with, but one of the group favorites is Clean Virginia Waterways. Our group goes to a location that has a lot of trash that needs to be picked up and go to work with plastic bags and a trash grabber. We record data, noting how many of each type of trash we locate. We have a lot of fun yelling out all of the items we locate, whether it is another cigarette or a toy firetruck.

The reason we all enjoy volunteering is that it gives us an opportunity to give back to the community we join when coming to Longwood. Also, we get to hang out with our friends or make some new friends by volunteering.

Students bonding over trash. Yeah, that’s right.

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Reason #1 Why YOU Should Join the Honors College!

After a long five week winter break, filled with desperation to return to our beloved Longwood campus, the members of the Honors College prepared to spend their first weekend back at school doing something wonderfully exciting. The particular activity that we all looked forward to was the Prospective Honors Students Weekend. It all started with 15 students on Friday as they spent the night, played games downstairs, baked together, watched movies with us, etc. A couple of the current students offered up their rooms so a perspective student would be able to experience life in the Honors College for a night and many more got up early on a Saturday in order to spend time talking to parents, prospective students, or participate in other activities of the Preview Day.

We didn’t get credit for participating, we don’t get volunteer hours, no one forced us to volunteer our time. The reason so many honors students decided to spend their first weekend back at Longwood participating in the Prospective Weekend is that we all love the Honors College that much. We truly enjoy running around in our blue polos, sitting in on a mock class or sitting on a panel, and telling everyone what we love about our program. One of the aspects of the Honors College that everyone talked about is the perks. Yes, the requirements are important to know about, as well as what are the class like, what is the environment, etc. The perks though, are pretty wonderful. Also, we want you to know what the environment is like, as it is an environment that we think you should be a part of soon.

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