The current honors program at UMPI is in some serious need of an overhaul and a few students here at UMPI have taken on this tremendous task of redesigning it as a whole. The four ambitious students who have taken on this task are Evan Zarkadas, Darius Haskell, Adam Weyenth and Sarah Harris, all of whom have been key to the redesign of the honors program up to this point in time.
Why should UMPI have an honors program in the first place? It’s to develop leadership skills and problem-solving skills, build civic engagement and engage students in interactive learning. This is achieved through interdisciplinary research projects conducted by students in the program. This all helps develop the soft skills employers are looking for when hiring young adults fresh out of college. When describing how the honors program will work, Adam said, “Research programs will be chosen by students and faculty in the honors program together and within the research program each student will work on their own research project relating to the overall research program chosen by the group and is within their interdisciplinary field.”
The honors program will be an invitation-based group on campus, recruiting potential aspects through letters of interest based on incoming freshmen’s high school GPA and their academic experiences, as the program wants what it’ll believe to be the most promising students UMPI has to offer to be among its members. This whole process will be known as the honors program’s scouting period.
The group then went on to explain what the honors program will look like for each year for students in the program. Starting in their freshman year, honors students will take an FYS 100 class in the fall semester followed by a Honors 100 class in the spring semester with a goal to get the students to know one another and an induction ceremony being held at the end of their spring semester. Sophomore year will be an Honors 200 course where students start work on their student-led interdisciplinary projects and must maintain a GPA of at least a 3.0. There will also be an honors retreat in the spring of their sophomore year with a trip off campus and out of town for a couple of days. Junior year will be an Honors 300 course, students must attend two honors events over the course of the year, be in one presentation a year and University Day is a must for all juniors to attend. Last, for their senior year, there will be an Honors 421 course they must attend, there’ll be an individual project along with their capstone project, a minimum of two honors events, one presentation and a University Day presentation as well.
The group is looking excitedly toward the future as the honors program is being built and established here at UMPI, but they are still looking for help in making the honors program the best it can be. Evan went on to say, “We’re looking for feedback from students, staff, faculty and the general public to help make improvements upon the program.”
Anyone wishing to help or just throw out some ideas for the program is more than welcome to and is actually encouraged to do so. If there are any ideas for the honors program floating around out there, please don’t be shy. Go and voice an opinion as the program will only be as good as the amount of work and effort the community as a whole puts into it.