The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) Honors Program hosted its second annual Fall Showcase on Thursday, Dec. 2, in the Wilhelmina Cullen Roberson Auditorium. The Showcase offered faculty, staff, and community members an opportunity to learn more about the University Honors Program and its students. All UHD faculty and staff were invited to attend this special event.
The event focused on the diverse ways in which Honors students have defined their “Honors Experience” both inside and outside of the classroom. The evening began with a brief overview of the University Honors Program provided by its director, Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss. She offered some insight into growth of the program’s academic, co-curricular, and enrichment opportunities have evolved over the past three years.
In her remarks, she shared some data attesting to the success of the program, such as the average student GPA of 3.5 as well as a first year retention rate of 70 percent (second year 84 percent). Dr. Nicholson-Preuss also spoke to the invaluable role in the Program’s success played by supportive faculty and staff. She concluded her remarks with a challenge to the Honors students in the audience to view their peers’ success as the standard that they will be expected to meet.
Dr. Tammis Thomas, who has taught the Honors section of UHD 1304 “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” for the past three fall semesters, commented on her experience with the program,
“UHD’s Honors Program is marked by exceptional student engagement,” said Dr. Thomas. “All of the elements are there: a commitment to academic excellence, a determination to develop independent thought, and an understanding of the relationship between getting an education and changing the world. The typical UHD honors student has a double major or a major with a strategically selected minor and has already studied abroad and become involved in an independent research project by the end of the second year.”
After Dr. Nicholson-Preuss’s overview, Honors students took centerstage for the rest of the evening. A pair of quick witted student emcees, Mariana Cano and Archie Gayle, kept the fast paced format moving smoothly. Eighteen students spoke on their “Honors Experience” and the opportunities that have contributed to their growth as scholars, leaders, and citizens. The five minute presentations were designed to give the audience a glimpse of who the students in the Honors Program are and what they have been doing. Many students also used their presentations as an opportunity to comment on the uniqueness of the Honors community, the role of mentorship in student success, and their pride in UHD.
Dr. Paul Mandell, Associate Professor of Spanish, mentors several Honors students and serves on the program’s faculty advisory committee. He was quite impressed by the students who presented at the Showcase.
“Each and every one is very accomplished in both the areas of academics and extracurricular activities,” said Dr. Mandell. “All of their narratives included details about the remarkable work they have done in classes here at UHD, their participation and leadership within a large number of varied organizations on the UHD campus and projects they have completed in the Greater Houston Communities. A truly remarkable group!”
Almost a dozen members of UHD’s faculty and staff joined the seventy-three Honors students in attendance to provide an enthusiastic audience for the presentations. The Showcase was followed by a peer networking reception.
2016 Fall Showcase Presentations:
What it Means to Belong to the Honors Community
Estefania Rodriguez, 3rd Year, Interdisciplinary Studies
My Honors Experience
Jessica Plascenia-Delgado, 2nd Year, Political Science
Intellectual Evolution: At Home and Abroad
Julio Enriquez, 3rd Year, Geosciences
What it Means to be an Honors Student
Prashant Bashyal, 2nd Year, EIS
Model UN and Model Arab League
Katy De La O, 3rd Year, Political Science/History
Faryal Gul, 3rd Year, Political Science/History
Perspective: Mentor, Ambassador, and Scholar
Evelyn Garcia, 2nd Year, English
Leadership and Grassroots Activism: Texas Freedom Network
Wallace Wilson, 3rd Year, Political Science
Magge Nunez, 3rd Year, Psychology
Leadership and Engaged Citizenship: Emerging Latino Leaders Fellowship
Mariana Grijalva, 2nd Year, Accounting
Leadership and Local History: Walter Prescott Webb Society
Juan Leija, 3rd Year, History
Balancing Honors and Scholars Academy
Leslie Gutierrez, 1st Year, Biology
Raven Robertson, 1st Year, Biology
New Opportunities: Scandinavia and SI
Carlos Guajardo, 2nd Year, History
Learning to Listen through Undergraduate Research
Jocelyne Torres, 2nd Year, Political Science
Hands on Learning: Hilcorp Internship
Taylor Scott, 3rd Year, Accounting
The Honors Family
Aimee Garcia-Soto, 3rd Year, History
One More Semester: Preparing for Graduate School
Edith Aldaba, 3rd Year, Spanish